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Understanding the process of social identity development in adolescent high school choral singers: A grounded theory

Elizabeth Ann Cassidy Parker, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Teenage isolation and alienation carry negative consequences. Adolescents who work through struggles of the self, however, can achieve self and social identity. This grounded theory study seeks to understand the process of adolescent choral singers’ social identity development within three mid-sized, Midwestern high school choral ensembles. Forty-nine total interviews were conducted with thirty-six different Mixed Choir participants. Data were openly, axially and selectively coded. Analytic products included categories with dimensionalized examples, a temporal matrix as well as fourteen propositional statements. Verification procedures included using peer review, writing analytic and reflective memos, engaging participants in member checks, and triangulating data sources. Results indicate the presence of three contextual conditions, including the time spent in rehearsal, both week-to-week and year-to-year, the range of intensities from rehearsal to performance, and the size of the singing group. The core phenomenon of social identity development emerged as “team,” with three supportive categories: (1) “everyone is there for one reason,” (2) “we will all be together,” and (3) “musical family.” Actions and interactions that contribute to the core phenomenon of “team” included the decision to audition, being chosen to be in Mixed Choir by the choral director and singing with others. Intervening conditions include the presence of cliques and student egos within Mixed Choir. Feelings of acknowledgement and being accomplished as well as strong feelings of pride developed as consequences. At the end of the developmental continuum, results indicate that choral membership has bolstered members’ sense of self. Increased self-concept encourages participants to give back in the forms of leadership and performance as well as engaging in the larger choral legacy at their schools. Future recommendations for research include investigating the relationships between music identity development and in-school music participation, examining the experiences of students who are not accepted into auditioned choirs, and studying the influence of choral programs on the social identity development of special needs’ students.^

Subject Area

Education, Sociology of|Music|Psychology, Social|Education, Music

Recommended Citation

Parker, Elizabeth Ann Cassidy, "Understanding the process of social identity development in adolescent high school choral singers: A grounded theory" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3350454.