The Forces of Acculturation on Gender Roles within Somali Communities in Minnesota


Carin Molenaar

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The rapid influx of Somali immigrants to Minnesota after the fall of their government in 1991 has created a great deal of interest in the fields of social and multicultural psychology (Heitritter, 1999). In this study I employ multi-method research by utilizing both qualitative and quantitative data gathering. A sample of 15 members of the Somali community in central Minnesota was recruited for the study. Participants completed a brief quantitative survey to gather their basic background information (age, sex, employment, etc.) and a 30 - 60 minute semi-structured interview. The collected data were examined in order to investigate the potential effects of unique reactions to factors of acculturation within the Somali community, and how these factors play a role in the formation of gender roles and family structures. Feelings of value and self-identifications as members of the United States, age of arrival, and years of educational instruction appeared to have the most significant effects on the alteration of perceived gender themes. Religiosity did not appear to have any significant effects on the alteration of gender roles.


Approved by: Dr. Michael Livingston, Dr. Lisa Platt, Dr. Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, Dr. Roger Narloch, Dr. Richard White