Abstract: Sense of Mastery and Risk and Resilience Factors Among Young Women in Multiple Marginalized Locations: Does Ethnicity Matter? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Sense of Mastery and Risk and Resilience Factors Among Young Women in Multiple Marginalized Locations: Does Ethnicity Matter?

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Laveen A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Tehila Refaeli, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Background and Purpose: Sense of mastery refers to how people regard changes in their life as being under their own control and their perceived ability to cope with life stressors. Mastery is strongly associated with an individual’s physical and mental health and is especially needed during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Among young people in multiple marginalized locations, mastery levels might be low due to their harsh life experiences. Although many studies have explored how mastery contributes to positive outcomes, less is known about the factors contributing to mastery among young people in marginalized locations, especially among different ethnic groups.

Using the theoretical perspective of intersectionality, this study aimed (1) to identify risk and resilience factors associated with mastery among Jewish and Bedouin young women in multiple marginalized locations, and (2) to explore the role of ethnicity as a possible moderator of the association between risk and resilience factors and mastery.

Methods: Study participants comprised 396 young women (aged 18-30), 151 of them Bedouin. Participants received social services from welfare or NGO services in the southern periphery of Israel. They were interviewed by phone using quantitative questionnaires. Hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to examine the contribution of risk and resilience factors to mastery. Lastly, the moderation effects of ethnicity on the associations between the other independent variables and mastery were explored using PROCESS v3.1 macro for SPSS.

Results: The entire set of independent variables accounted for 34.8% of the variance in mastery, F(12, 363) = 6.46, p < .001. The findings indicated that mastery was associated with ethnicity: Young Bedouin women had a lower sense of mastery. Low mastery was also associated with having a learning disability, other limitations/disabilities, or illness. In addition, higher levels of trauma, more risk behaviors, and use of more services all contributed to lower mastery. The coefficient of ethnicity remained significant in the final model. Finally, ethnicity moderated the association between mastery and risk behaviors as well as service use. Namely, this association was stronger among young Bedouin women.

Conclusions and Implications: The findings stress the need to use a critical social perspective to explore inequalities in mastery among different ethnic groups. The findings further support the intersectionality theory and point to the role of social categories and multiple locations that intersect and create a unique marginalized state whose influence, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. Specifically, young Bedouin women were more vulnerable to experiencing lower mastery even compared to other women from various marginalized locations. A high contribution was also found of various social locations to lower mastery; on the other hand, resilience factors did not contribute to mastery once all the risk factors were taken under consideration. When providing services to young women there is a need to provide them in a way that increases mastery. More specific interventions in terms of policy and service provisions to strengthen the mastery of young women in marginalized locations will be discussed.