'Just like the fact that I'm Syrian like you are Scottish': Ascribing interviewer identities as a resource in cross-cultural interaction

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Abstract

Interviews are used as a research tool in numerous studies of identity. They have also been studied as social interactions in themselves. From this perspective, analysts have looked at the ways interviews generate identities, and how both parties work to fulfill the associated roles and expectations (e.g., the interviewer's neutrality). Interviewers thus become a more 'visible' participant, and several studies examine the influence of their multiple category memberships on the interaction. This paper aims to extend these insights to the insider/outsider dilemma in interviews, by looking at how participants make relevant and use interviewer identities as a resource. The data comes from a corpus of interviews with Syrian people on identity conducted by a British interviewer. The analysis shows how the interviewer's identity as a sojourner and stranger was used to warrant positive assessments of national character; her national identity was invoked to normalize national feelings; her identity as Christian used to characterize religious identity as inherent; and her identity as Westerner was used to legitimate complaints. I discuss implications for interviews on identity and identity within interviews, and argue that this approach is a thoroughly empirical way to address the shifting, practical ascription of insider-outsider status to the interviewer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume54
Issue number2
Early online date30 Oct 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2015

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