Scott, E. D., & Deutsch, N. L. (2021). Conferring Kinship: Examining Fictive Kinship Status in a Black Adolescent’s Natural Mentoring Relationship. Journal of Black Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/00957984211002613
Summarized by Ariel Ervin
Notes of Interest:
- Although researchers are interested in understanding how youth create and maintain natural mentorships, little is known about youths’ experiences within these relationships.
- This case study examines how a Black adolescent boy refers to preexisting cultural knowledge to expand his social support networks.
- Findings show that:
- Fictive kinship (strong non-familial relationships) is a positive aspect of Black adaptive culture that Black boys can use to develop unique mentoring relationships.
- Black adolescent boys have pre-existing cultural knowledge, as well as the knowledge that they receive within their mentorships.
- Youth agency and expectations are expressed in mentorships to educate and shape those adults’ significance.
- Future studies need to explore how Black youths develop their resources, what assets they draw from their cultural knowledge, and what their cultural practices are. Having a richer understanding of the following will make it easier for adults to support Black youth.
Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)
This case study examines the way an adolescent Black boy extends his kinship network as a part of navigating and demonstrating agency in mentoring relationships with nonparental adults. We purposively selected one participant, Bodos, from the sample of a larger mixed-method study involving youth, aged 12 to 18 years, in the southeastern United States. Drawing on narrative methodology, we used a holistic-content approach to analyze Bodos’ responses to semistructured interviews. Bodos used several narratives to describe his experiences. We offer three findings: (a) Fictive kinship is a positive feature of Black adaptive culture that can be leveraged by Black youth as a tool for creating a distinct relational dynamic with their mentors, (b) adolescent Black boys possess skills and knowledge that both preexist and emerge within positive mentoring relationships, and (c) youth agency and expectations manifest in mentoring relationships to inform and influence those adults’ significance. This case study furthers the field’s understanding of how cultural practices can positively influence relational development and create a unique relational context and experience.
Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)
The original study’s focus on natural mentoring relationships and the overwhelming presence of fictive kinship in the relational dynamics depicted in Bodos’ story inspired our desire to more closely examine the role of fictive kinship in natural mentoring relationships. Bodos’ narrative illustrates how fictive kin relations can emerge within natural mentoring relationships between an adolescent Black boy and non-parental adults as a status of the highest regard. Findings from the study provide insights around how the fictive kin status is created within mentoring relationships as well as what uniquely associated permissions and expectations can be afforded to the adult. Bodos discussed relationships with adults of various races, genders, and contexts. Not all kin are mentors, and not all mentors are invited to kinship. The findings presented in this study are consistent with previous research on mentoring and developmental relationships, which suggests that kinship networks are sites for possible natural mentoring relationships (Hurd & Sellers, 2013; M. Nelson, 2013). However, this study furthers the field by helping us see how fictive kinship emerges as a special interpersonal dynamic and culturally relevant position from within a mentoring relationship with Black youth. We draw three core understandings from our findings: (a) Fictive kinship is a positive feature of Black adaptive culture that can be leveraged by Black youth as a tool for creating a distinct relational dynamic with their mentors, (b) adolescent Black boys possess skills and knowledge that both preexist and emerge within positive mentoring relationships, and (c) youth agency and expectations manifest in mentoring relationships to inform and influence those adults’ significance.
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