Constructing identities in immigrant life stories
Social Psychology University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland
I am currently preparing a doctoral thesis on the life and acculturation of immigrants in Finland. My aim is to examine identity construction and acculturation in the context of personal life stories narrated by immigrants. I am interested in the different ways immigrants narrate their identities and acculturation experiences.
My longitudinal research data consists of 50 autobiographical narratives by 25 immigrants (2 stories narrated by each participant) from 12 different countries of origin.
The data analysis is focused on the interplay between identities constructed and the topics narrated, and in how this relationship changes as time passes.
I have analysed the narratives and identity construction from ?narrative constructionist? and ?storied resource perspective? (Smith & Sparkes, 2008a & 2008b). That means looking at narratives as social and discursive actions. It also involves looking at the cultural narrative resources which the narrators draw on and resist when constructing their life stories and identities. Furthermore, it means paying attention to the contextually negotiated nature of identity positions. People are both positioned by others but also positioning themselves. ?As such selves and identities are both conferred and actively claimed and contested? (Taylor & Littleton, 2006, 25).
In my paper I would first and foremost like to demonstrate how I have in practise developed and used narrative- and discursive-analytical tools for analysing textual data from this perspective. In addition to that I would like to introduce some preliminary results regarding identity construction in immigrant life stories.