Language and perceptions of identity threat
This study explores how a group of British South Asians (BSA) understood, defined and evaluated languages associated with their ethnic and religious identities, focusing upon the role of language in the negotiation and construction of these identities and particularly upon strategies employed for coping with identity threat. Twelve BSA were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Transcripts were subjected to qualitative thematic analysis. Participants’ accounts were explored through the interpretive lens of identity process theory. Four superordinate themes are reported: “Maintaining a sense of distinctiveness through language use”, “Exclusion of others and personal claims of belonging”, “Deriving a sense of self-esteem from the knowledge of one’s threatening position” and “Two identities, two languages. Searching for psychological coherence”. While identity principles may be cross-culturally universal, coping strategies are fluid and dynamic. Individuals will act strategically to minimise identity threat. Some of the coping strategies manifested by participants are discussed.
Citation : Jaspal, R. and Coyle, A. (2009) Language and perceptions of identity threat. Psychology and Society, 2 (2), pp.150-167.
ISSN : 2041-5893
Research Group : Psychology
Research Institute : Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Peer Reviewed : Yes