An exploration of Tajfel's Social Identity Theory and its application to understanding Métis as a social identity
Halldorson, Jennifer Dawn
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Abstract This thesis explores Henri Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory (1981) with a specific focus on the process of self-categorization. Tajfel’s theory provides the theoretical framework to understand the social category of Métis as a social group. Eight self-identified Métis adults were interviewed individually utilizing a semi-structured interview to explore their Métis self-identification and operationalize the conceptual framework. The three main research questions used to develop the conceptual framework are: 1) what are Métis characteristics?, 2) Do self-identified Métis adults evaluate the Métis group to which they identify as positive, negative or both?, 3) Do self-identified Métis adults feel like they fit in or belong to the Métis group? Both open ended and closed ended questions were used to explore Métis adults’ perspectives related to their social self-categorization. Data were analyzed; conclusions were drawn and verified utilizing the recommendations of Miles and Huberman (1994). Findings were theoretically interpreted utilizing the social identity perspective. The study’s results support the use of Tajfel’s theoretical conception of a group as a conceptual framework in understanding the experience and perspective of the Métis participants in this study.