Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Suzanne Lease

Committee Member

William C Hunter

Committee Member

Sara K Bridges

Committee Member

Richard O Lightsey


Young Black professionals are faced with unique challenges in navigating their ethnic and professional identities, especially in the workplace. They are underrepresented in high-status professional jobs and often assume they must adhere to behavioral and linguistic norms associated with the dominant culture in order to be accepted in predominately White workspaces. The process of adjusting one’s style of speech or behavior based on the social setting is known as code-switching. This study examined the experience of code-switching for young Black professionals in non-diverse workspaces with particular attention to the role of Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop has served as a tool for identity development for young Black individuals, especially with regard to the way that Black presentation is expressed within the genre and culture. It is possible that Hip-Hop, as a model of Black expression, could be used as a useful counter to negative aspects of code-switching. Using a grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) approach, three broad themes emerged from interviews with seven young Black professionals whose workplaces were majority White: a) subjective experiences with code-switching at work, b) Hip-Hop as a contributing factor to authentic presentation, and c) the influence of Hip-Hop on young Black professionals’ racial identity development. The data were used to develop a theoretical framework of how Hip-Hop can be used as an identity-grounding tool for young Black professionals. Clinical implications and suggestion for future research are presented.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access