The discursive negotiation of international student identities
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Research about identity has undergone a discursive turn in recent years, with a shift from conceptualising identity as an essentialistic, pre-existing construct that drives social interaction, to a more fluid and hybrid construct that is constituted through discourse. As a result, a number of recent studies investigating the construction of international student identities have supposedly adhered to this latter, postmodernist-inspired notion of identity in their analyses. However, upon closer examination, these studies appear to be premised on the assumption that what international students say can be equated with their identities, without critical attention being paid to the way in which identities emerge as a conjoint construct through interaction. In this paper, it is argued that identities are invariably jointly constructed by participants through discourse, even in interviews and focus groups where the researcher is ostensibly taking a neutral stance, and thus more attention needs to be paid to the ways in which identities are discursively negotiated through interaction.
Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Copyright 2008 Taylor & Francis. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version.