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The Concept of Self

A Study of Black Identity and Self-Esteem

Richard L. Allen

Publication Year: 2001

Institutional racism has had a major impact on the development of African American self-esteem and group identity. Through the years, African Americans have developed strong, tenacious concepts of self partially based on African cultural and philosophical retentions and as a reaction to historical injustices. The Concept of Self examines the historical basis for the widely misunderstood ideas of how African Americans think of themselves individually, and how they relate to being part of a group that has been subjected to challenges of their very humanity. Richard Allen examines past scholarship on African American identity to explore a wide range of issues leading to the formation of an individual and collective sense of self. Allen traces the significance of social forces that have impinged on the lives of African Americans and points to the uniqueness of their position in American society. He then focuses on the results from the National Survey of Black Americans—a national survey of African Americans on a wide range of political, social, and psychological issues—to develop a model of African self. Allen explores the idea of double-consciousness as put forth by W.E.B. DuBois against the more recent debates of Afrocentricity or an African-centered consciousness. He proposes a set of interrelated hypotheses regarding how African Americans might use an African worldview for the upliftment of Africans in the Diaspora. The Concept of Self will interest students and scholars of African American studies, sociology and population studies

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: African American Life Series


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 5-6

List of Figures

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p. 7

List of Tables

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pp. 9-10


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p. 11

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pp. 13-14

The Concept of Self: A Study of Black Identity and Self-Esteem explores the many and varied issues leading to and manifesting themselves in the African American's dynamic sense of self. The book examines critical issues influencing the black self-concept through an analysis of two important and...

Part I: The Black Self: Trends, Influences, and Effects

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pp. 15-63

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1. The Context of the Issues: Historical Events and Considerations

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pp. 17-43

This chapter provides the groundwork for the examination of a number of issues and problems concerning the self-concept of Africans, with an emphasis on those born in the United States. It presents a historical context for the proffered research questions...

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2. Conceptualization and Presentation of the Self-Concept

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pp. 44-63

The previous chapter framed the issues in terms of conflicting forces warring for dominance. On the one hand, there are the powerful and enduring forces that have systematically worked to place African Americans in inferior positions and to present them as inferior beings...

Part II: Theoretical and Empirical Examinations of the Black Self

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pp. 65-121

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3. Some Issues, Questions, and Problems Surrounding the Black Self-Concept: Self-Esteem

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pp. 67-84

This chapter builds on the two previous ones by using the insights obtained to explore the various conceptual and methodological issues pertaining to the frequently explored concept of self-esteem. Here, I provide an overview of some of the major conceptions...

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4. Some Issues, Questions, and Problems Surrounding the Black Self-Concept: Group Identity

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pp. 85-105

I have provided support for the position that, collectively, African Americans have a positive sense of self-worth. This condition is essentially the same across different age groups, and, for the most part, the same for males and females. The exception...

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5. What Identity Is Worth: The Interrelationship Explored

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pp. 106-121

During this research journey, I have provided the historical foundation for the interest in the concept of self among African Americans along with the dominant themes in the research literature that have tried to address the many issues growing out of that interest...

Part III: Theory Construction

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pp. 123-178

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6. Another Look From Another Angle: A Move Toward Theory

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pp. 125-161

In this chapter, I formulate a tentative theory, one that is informed by past theorizing and the insights garnered from past research, and by some of the contemporary perspectives that have been formulated to explain the self-concept of African...

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7. Epilogue: The African Self From the Past, Revelations in the Present, and a Foreshadowing of the Future

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pp. 162-178

The questions that have informed this inquiry pertain to the effects of systematic and continuous aggressive acts against Africans in the United States on the self-concept. With uncanny consistency, African Americans have been projected in an unfavorable...


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pp. 179-198


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pp. 199-202


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pp. 203-217


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pp. 219-222

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814338315
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814328989

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 13
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: African American Life Series
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OCLC Number: 777596390
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Concept of Self

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Race identity.
  • African Americans -- Psychology.
  • African Americans -- Social conditions.
  • Self-perception.
  • Group identity.
  • African diaspora.
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