Proceedings of The 3rd World Conference on Social Sciences
Music as a cultural remedy: Exploring the role of music as a way for Asian-American youth to navigate their dual identity in the socio-political context following the COVID-19 outbreak
Cho, Lauren Hyunseo
Adolescence is characterized by the constant struggle to establish one’s identity. Music is a medium for adolescents to express their social identity and group belongingness. Therefore, minority groups in multicultural societies often exhibit unique music preferences. Asian-American youth experience conflict between their Asian and American identities, which adds to the stress of identity formation. Accordingly, this study examined the music preferences of Asian-American youth and its role in determining their socio-cultural identity. Further, considering the existing stereotypes regarding Asians and the negative perceptions of Asians caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, this study examined if the current socio-political context surrounding COVID-19 influenced Asian-American youth’s identity expression and music choices. Employing a qualitative phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews were conducted with seven participants aged 15–24 years. Four major themes were extracted, with two about the positive and negative aspects of being Asian-American and two about the personal and global relevance of music. Findings revealed the struggle between the Asian and American identities of the youth. Participants reported that the COVID-19 outbreak had led to negative perceptions about Asians or that it had intensified the pre-existing negative stereotypes. All participants considered music as a mode of expressing their Asian identity and their preferences tended to match those of their peer group. These findings highlight the lived experiences of Asian-American youth and their identity conflicts, and they confirm the social function of music in this process. These results can be used to develop counseling interventions for Asian-American youth during identity formation.
Keywords: Asian; identity formation; music; phenomenology; youth.