Author

Putman

Date of Award

6-2002

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Mark P. Orbe

Second Advisor

Paul O. Nwulu

Third Advisor

Theresa Bowell

Fourth Advisor

Paul Yelsma

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

In a societal context, European Americans are the dominant majority group. However, when European Americans are involved in interracial relationships, they may often find themselves in the minority (numerically speaking) when they interact with their partner's friends and/or family members. This research explores lived experiences of European Americans involved in interracial relationships with African Americans. Specifically, the general question addressed was, "What communication strategies and behaviors do European Americans exhibit when they communicate with their African American partner's friends and/or family members?" The acculturation process and Communication Accommodation Theory were explored in order to provide initial insight into this relatively unexplored phenomenon. A phenomenological methodology was utilized to discover the lived experiences and subsequent emergent themes of the European Americans. Five themes emerged as essential. The revelatory phrase, "What gives you the right to talk like that?" and subsequent phrase "Earning the right" revealed the interconnectedness of the five themes and epitomized the essence of communicating as a European American in an interracial relationship. Limitations and future implications of this research are presented.

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