The dataset consists of extracts from interviews that were conducted in Arabic with Syrian people, which were transcribed using Jefferson (2004) notation, transliterated, and translated. Identity has often been approached by asking questions about it in interviews. However, speakers sometimes reject, resist or modify category membership because of the sensitive inferential and interactional issues invoked. This article aims to provide a systematic analysis of category-eliciting question–answer (Q-A) sequences from a large corpus of Syrian interview data concerning several identities. Using conversation and membership categorisation analysis, four Q-A sequences are identified: minimal confirmation of questions seeking the hearably demographic fact of membership; modifying membership claims in response to factual-type questions by rejecting some not other category-bound attributes; characterising membership as fact and nominating an alternative identity in response to questions about feelings; and, in response to questions seeking confirmation of a category implicated through the prior talk, warranting the denial of membership. The analysis therefore highlights a paradox: asking direct questions about category membership is used to generate talk about the topic of identity that would be difficult to collect otherwise, but this may in turn provide for a reluctance to self-identify, thus making identity a delicate business.
The paper, entitled The Delicate Business of Identity is due to be published in Discourse Studies in August.
Widdicombe, Sue. (2017). The Delicate Business of Identity full transcripts, [dataset]. http://dx.doi.org/10.7488/ds/2045.