Social Class and Self-esteem among Adolescents in Hong Kong
Self-esteem is one of our most basic psychological needs. Researches on this subject suggest that self-esteem impacts the major aspects of our lives, like our thinking process, emotions, desires, value, choices, and goals. Self-esteem holds a considerable significance in both the individual and social context. Most importantly, it deals with adolescents’ concern of personal growth. Self-esteem affects how an adolescent search for a clear and stable self-definition ( Cheung, T. S., 1984). So, this is why I decided to generate a research on adolescents’ self-esteem.
It is commonly believed that the level of self-esteem varies positively with one’s social class. People tend to think that with higher social class, one may exercise more resources, power, and control, that is social capital, over their lives, and vice versa. Hence their sense of self-worth would be higher or lower. However some researches from the western countries suggest that the relationship between social class and self-esteem among adolescents is only moderate.
The objective of this research is to find out whether a relationship exists between social class and self-esteem among adolescents in Hong Kong, what type of relationship it is, the level or extent of the relationship and whether there are any extraneous factors affecting the relationship. This research will be conducted in a way more related to Hong Kong’s situation.
There are a number of reasons that justify the need to conduct such a research. First, a research on such a topic will help broaden people’s understanding about the concept of self-esteem. It also offers people a more accurate understanding on the impacts of social class on self-esteem. It might, if possible, also fill a void in the existing literature. Second, many past researches on this topic were conducted in western countries. We are not certain if the generalization there also applies to adolescents in Hong Kong. Conducting such a research in Hong Kong would enable us to have a more comparative perspective in viewing this issue. Third, as self-esteem holds such an apparent significance on adolescents’ personal development, finding out its determinants will help us to improve the methods of raising self-esteem. If the level of self-esteem was largely affected by one’s social class, or if the level of self-esteem was only moderately affected by one’s social class and in fact more by other factors, how would parents and schools adjust their routes of educating their kids and students? This research would help serve as a reference for any further studies or for any educational reforms.
For this part, I would like to respectively give a general impression on each work I have read about this topic. I have chosen ten major works.
Rosenberg, Morris (1978). Social Class among Children and Adults. American Sociological Review, 84, 53-77. This journal introduces to us that the relation between
social class and self-esteem among children, young adolescents and late adolescents is respectively none, modest and moderate. It does not support the idea that self-esteem
varies positively with social class. The findings are impressive and reliable in the USA, but whether it is applied to Hong Kong’s situation is debatable.
Wiltfang, Gregory (1990). Social Class and Adolescents’ Self-esteem: Another Look. Social Psychology Quarterly, 53, 174-183. This journal uses a non-traditional
measurement of social class to explore the relations between social class and self-esteem. It includes some questions about parental welfare status, and neigborhood financial status, etc. Results are supportive. When including that new form of measurement, adolescents’ self-esteem and social class do have a more apparent relation. I would include those questions in my questionnaire.
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