“M(ai)cro: Centering the macrosystem in human development”
Hosted by the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Abstract: Both society and psychological science are deeply grounded in (and often perpetuate) racism. While human development is inextricable from macro-level structural racism and hierarchies of oppression, developmental research often locates processes in the micro-level of individuals and relationships, ultimately obscuring how intimately macro-level forces shape developmental processes. To shift this perspective, I draw on the concept of “m(ai)cro” to explicitly intersect the individual and society in our discussion of human development (Rogers, Niwa et al., 2021). In this talk, I discuss how this approach shapes my research program and then present an empirical study of children’s racial identity development as a m(ai)cro process, situated in the sociopolitical context of Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter (BLM) has profoundly shifted public and political discourse about race in the United States and thus the broader sociopolitical landscape in which children learn about race and their own racial identities. This longitudinal qualitative analysis examines change in Black, White, and Multiracial children’s (N = 100; Mage = 10.18 years old) racial identity narratives from 2014 to 2016. Qualitative interview analyses show that: (a) the importance of racial identity increased among Black and Multiracial (but not white) children, and (b) the content of children’s race narratives shifted to include BLM-related themes and more discussions of race as interpersonal and structural (not just individual). I discuss how conceptualizing developmental processes through a m(ai)cro lens offers a more complete story of human development and disrupts patterns of oppression in science and society.
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