The concept of marginality has a long history of investigation in the sociological literature. For example, Stonequist (1937, p. xv) introduced the concept of the marginal man as “one whom fate has condemned to live in two societies and in two not merely different but antagonistic cultures.” Classical sources of marginality in America have included race (e.g., Afro-American), religion (e.g., American Jews), age (e.g., adolescence), and ethnic origin (e.g., Italian-Americans) (Park, 1950; Stonequist, 1936). More contemporary definitions include those persons on the border of two groups or systems (e.g., Wright & Wright, 1972). Marginality has been and still is characterized as producing negative psychological effects for the person caught between two reference groups because of the differing values, goals, and norms. In general, it has been assumed that marginality leads to tension, conflict, and ambivalence, thereby causing the marginal person to feel anxious, confused, and alienated.
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