National Identity and Otherness in Greek Speakers. Talk about Immigration: Methodological and Disciplinary Reflections
Sociology University of Surrey Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
The aim of the present paper is to present the potential contribution of using a discourse analytic approach and a transdisciplinary point of departure (social psychology, social geography, migration studies) to studying national identity and immigration. Conclusions derive from a study on Greek national identity negotiations in relation to immigration flows from Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics since 1989. Semi-structured focus groups were conducted with participants who identified as Greek citizens of Greek ethnic origin. The transcriptions of the focus groups were discourse analysed focusing on content, rhetorical strategies and their functions and on interactional identities.
The study has been guided by the perspective of banal nationalism in its understanding of national identity as a form of life in a world divided into nation-states (Billig, 1995). In terms of Greek national identity and immigration as topic, the study drew similarities between the perspective of banal nationalism and the critique of methodological nationalism (Wimmer and Schiller, 2002). The assumptions and conclusions of the study supported the critique of methodological nationalism on traditional (sociological) migration research and aimed to contribute to a shift in perspective away from methodological nationalism. This was done, firstly by exploring the complexity of Greek national identity in talk and challenging the fixity and homogeneity of Greek national culture with reference to immigrants. Secondly, by focusing on the interconnectedness between traditions of argumentation of Greek nation-building and discourse on immigrant integration, which has been identified as a major shortcoming of migration research (see Brubaker, 1992; Castles, 1995; Favell, 1998). In terms of methodological implications, the significance of the findings of the study is found at identifying the potentials of opting for a relational approach to identification as well as at foregrounding the complexities of identification. Finally, in evaluating transdisciplinary research, the conclusions of the study pointed to the interaction of concerns on identity and otherness between sociological, social psychological and social geographical research on migration, which supports the argument against methodological and disciplinary isolationism.