The Influence of Racial Identity and Social Support on the Employment Status of African American Women
Type of DegreeDissertation
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African American women represent the highest group of all unemployed Americans. As a consequence of long-term unemployment and subsequent impoverishment, African American women experience chronic stressors that affect their self-concept, physiological and psychological well being. Despite numerous public health programs designed to decrease poor health outcomes, African American women have only benefited marginally. Hence, health disparities among this group continues to grow. To explain this growing phenomenon, researchers have begun to look beyond the poverty status of African American women to examine other socio and environmental influences to address the effect of unemployment on mental and physical health. Racial identity is shaped by beliefs and attitudes and is believed to be part of the self concept, which ultimately may influence the way in which African American women use social support systems. Thus, racial identity is one way of examining within group differences that may have been overlooked in research on African American women. Currently, there are no studies that link racial identity to social support. Therefore, the researcher undertook this study to examine the influence of racial identity and social support on employment status. Two hundred African American women who were unemployed or employed part-time were sampled. Their responses to a demographic profile, and two multidimensional attitude surveys were analyzed to determined whether racial identity influenced employment status and the extent to which social support moderated the racial identity-employment relation. Results were not consistent with theory. While there was a reverse significant relationship between racial identity and social support, neither variable influenced employment status. The study provides significant implications for the counseling profession and research.