The linguistic construction of identity in transnational relocation narratives: examining discursive practices in expatriate blogs

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    This research examines the linguistic construction of identity in personal narratives of transnational relocation to England in expatriate blogs. These constitute a form of transition during which individuals engage with who they are. Adopting a sociocultural linguistic approach to identity, the analysis draws on the frameworks of tactics of intersubjectivity (ToI) and membership categorisation analysis (MCA) to show how identity is constructed along the relational dimensions of likeness, realness and power, and how individuals engage in category negotiations throughout their first year abroad. Most commonly, individuals create similarity and difference with regard to both their country of origin and of residence, as well as to other expatriates with whom they share joint foreignness. Less frequently yet more prominently, they authenticate identity, which involves sharing personal experience, displaying expertise, as well as positioning themselves as able to provide unadorned accounts of life abroad and as finding fulfilment through relocation. However, they also denaturalise identity through expressions of rupture, challenges and being out of place. Issues of power revolve around individuals’ process of obtaining necessary documents and of legitimising their blogging. Category negotiation extends from the initial challenge of not yet having moved whilst already sharing relocation narratives, as well as experiencing liminality, to adopting category membership as expatriates, exploring its predicates and challenging non-members’ assumptions. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge in two ways: empirically by exploring linguistic identity construction in online transnational relocation narratives, which is relevant for an understanding of how individuals discursively engage with transition more generally, and methodologically and theoretically by employing and critiquing two diverse approaches which to the researcher’s knowledge have not been combined in research on linguistic identity construction. Ultimately, this thesis contributes towards the consideration of how identity and transition can be theorised and investigated using linguistic frameworks.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Leeds
    Award date30 Jul 2018
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2018

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