Understanding the Ethnic Self: A Qualitative Study of 1.5 Generation Korean American Immigrants

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Qualitative study, 1.5 generation immigrants, Bicultural identity development, Grounded theory method, Social-ecological model


This study examined the experiences of bicultural identity development of 1.5 generation Korean immigrants living in predominantly White regions. Using grounded theory methodology, this study highlights dynamic forms of 1.5 generation Korean immigrants’ bicultural identities as both Korean and American. The study found that as these immigrants are largely influenced by interpersonal relationships and race-related discrimination experiences, they develop different forms of bicultural identity through five stages (from anxiety and fear to acceptance), differ from first- and second-generation immigrants. Through viewing 1.5 generation immigrants as a unique population with their own needs, the implications center on the opportunity to support 1.5 generation, Korean immigrants, in coping with negative experiences and developing bicultural identity across various contexts.


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Author Biographies

In Young Park, University of Denver

In Young Park worked as a research assistant in a government-funded institute and at the social welfare center, engaging in the project on how the classroom environment can impact non-minority youth’s cultural tolerance toward immigrants. She is particularly interested in understanding parental factors that influence family processes and youth mental health distress outcomes within Asian immigrant family contexts and designing culturally appropriate practices for both ethnic minority and majority communities.

Marquisha Scott, University of Denver

Marquisha Lawrence Scott, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. She received a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. In addition to the PhD, she has a Master of Social Work and Master of Divinity from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and Eden Theological Seminary, respectively. With a background in macro social work, community organizing, and understanding religious congregations as organizations of faith and service, Scott’s work centers non-governmental institutions as solvers of social problems. Currently, she researches 1) globalization’s impact on youth, 2) youth’s engagement with global citizenship identity and 3) religious congregations’ impact on youth’s economic and social outcomes within a global society.


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How to Cite

Park, I. Y., & Scott, M. (2022). Understanding the Ethnic Self: A Qualitative Study of 1.5 Generation Korean American Immigrants. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 9(2), 171–198. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/1006



Original Manuscript