Conference Agenda

RN35_09b: New Politics of Identity
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Kyoko Shinozaki, University of Salzburg
Location: BS.G.27
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road


Bosnian Diaspora(s) between Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism? A Social Constructivist Approach to Diasporic Postwar Identities

Ana Mijic

University of Vienna, Austria

Within an ongoing sociological research project at the University of Vienna, I am focusing on the analysis of identity-formations of the Bosnian diaspora(s) living in Vienna. The theoretical foundation of the project is Berger and Luckmann’s sociology of knowledge. By the means of a hermeneutical analysis of narrative interviews conducted with Bosnian immigrants with different ethnic and social backgrounds as well as various migration histories, I aim to decipher the dynamics of their identity-constructions and their senses of belonging. So far, the analysis suggests that the experience of war as well as migration and life in minority settings, have a strong impact on the self-perceptions of my interviewees. Against the backdrop of the previous analysis, it is reasonable to assume that these identities are characterized by a combination of two apparently antithetic qualities: by ethnic boundary maintenance and ethnic boundary erosion, or to put it in prominent terms, by nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Depending on the social backgrounds as well as the biographical trajectories, the interplay between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, however, vary in manifestation.

In my presentation, I will outline the interim results of the analysis and discuss them in the light of Berger and Luckmann’s social constructivist approach, since, to date, there has been hardly any interexchange between their sociology of knowledge and research on migration. I aim to use my research to make a substantial contribution to bridge this gap, theoretically and empirically, and to offer a sociology of migration, which is deeply anchored in the sociology of knowledge.

The Representation of Englishmen among Baltic Migrants in the UK

Martins Kaprans

University of Latvia, Latvia

Great Britain has become the main destination for new labor migrants from Latvia and Lithuania. The majority of these migrants have come to the UK within the last 15 years. This paper looks at how Baltic migrants define their relations with the British society. In particular, the paper focuses of how the perception of British people conditionally shapes the migrants’ adaptation narratives, revealing their integration as well as separation intentions.

The paper draws on the ideas of social representation theory (Moscovici 2008) that explains how people create a shared understanding of social objects, such as genuine Englishmen, and how they position themselves through such representations. In order to understand the migrants’ discursive practices as regards British people, the paper explores interviews with Latvian and Lithuanian migrants that were conducted in terms of my postdoc project in 2018. Interviewees were recruited from East Midlands and West Midlands. Taking into account the Brexit vote in 2016, these interviews provide context-sensitive data, i.e. they show whether and how the Brexit discourse has framed particular themes in the representation of British people.

The paper argues that the social representations of British people reveal different acculturation strategies (Berry 1997) that Latvian migrants use in order to legitimize their stay in the UK as well as to de-problematize uncertainties and anxieties related to Brexit. Likewise, the qualitative data suggest that the portrayal of Englishmen is discursively used as a basis for social comparison that helps to maintain a positive migrant’s identity. Thus the paper illuminates the hegemonic and emancipatory dimensions within the representation of Englishmen.

The Construction of Identity through Consumption from Zygmunt Bauman’s Perspective: Experiences of Iranian Refugees in Turkey

Aslican Kalfa-Topates, Hakan Topates

Pamukkale University-Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Turkey

This research aims to discuss consumption’s function in Iranian refugees’ identity construction process in Turkey, from Bauman’s perspective. Bauman argues that consumption constitutes different social realities including identity in the modern liquid era. As the work ethic constitutes identity in the “producer society,” consumption takes this function over in today’s postmodern era. Bauman’s argument is valid for several social classes in Turkey being a semi-periphery country. Hence, despite the increase of poverty with the recent economic crisis, there is a strong tendency for indebted consumption.

This research focusing on Iranian refugees’ daily life practices discusses the intersection of migration with the fact that consumption society practices play an essential role in the identity formation process. In the context of the study, the researchers used qualitative field research and conducted in-depth interviews with 30 Iranian refugees living in the city of Denizli.

Turkey has been hosting many asylum seekers/refugees from the Middle East and Africa since the 1980s. Composing of LGBTIs, Christians, Zarathustra, Baha’is, and political prisoners, Iranian refugees mainly live in Denizli and participate in the labour market as cheap labour source in order to earn their livings. However, they construct their identities through consumption. In this context, the main finding of the research is that Iranians adopt consumption patterns consistent with Bauman’s argument on the relation between identity and consumption. Iranians push the limits of consumption opportunities in Turkey as a result of Iran’s authoritarian regime’s restriction on consumption freedom. They use a considerable amount of their income they earned through jobs under their skills for hedonist consumption. Thus, the design of the refugee identity combines with the design of the consumer identity.

Ethnic Cultural Associations and Identity Formation of Immigrants: The Case Study of Russian and Italian Associations in Germany

Tetiana Havlin

University of Siegen, Germany

Around 600000 voluntary associations are registered in Germany. Activities of associations cover a wide range of civil and public life – from political to leisure oriented. 17000 associations are organized by immigrants. Ethnic cultural associations can be seen as a form of collective agency of immigrants joint in common actions such as: public representation of a particular ethnic group, preservation of unique ethnic culture, organization of public events, passing ethnic/cultural knowledge to locals or younger generation from the same ethnic group, collective participation in the life of German civil society or bridging to organizations from a country of origin. The talk aims at answering the following questions: what is the role of ethnic cultural associations in Germany and how do they contribute to the identity formation of immigrants? Based on the case studies of two ethnic cultural associations – Russian and Italian – I attempt to answer these questions. The study took place in one ordinary mid-sized German city which does not have a great variety of ethnic cultural representation as, for instance, larger cities have. Therefore, these selected cultural associations are the main official points of reference or channels of communication between ethnic community and local population/ institutions. The findings demonstrate the formation of ‘Russianness’ and ‘Italianness’ which are constructed in the German context and which overlap but at the same time differ from the national/ethnic construction in Russia and Italy. These special German ‘Russianness’ and ‘Italianness’ serve as a frame for as well as a result of identity formations in the host country.