Identity has been a topical issue in both popular and social science literatures for the past forty years. The writings of Erik Erikson on the identity formation process of late adolescence have provided an important theoretical foundation to clinical, counseling, and educational practices. As the literature on adolescent development has burgeoned over the last three decades, so have efforts to understand, more systematically, the means by which young people find their occupational, religious, political, sexual and relational roles in life. One of the most popular research traditions to spring from Erikson's clinical observations has been the ego identity status approach developed by James Marcia. This approach has expanded Erikson's concept of identity to describe four distinct styles by which adolescents and adults deal with identity-defining issues. The present volume reflects the most recent efforts of social scientists who have contributed further to the work that Erikson and Marcia began -- an exhaustive analysis of the issues inherent in the adolescent identity formation process.
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