How can we study identity in a workplace context?
Introductory Meeting of the Cluster
19th of January 2017
On 19/1/2017 we had our first meeting of the MITN research cluster 'Identity and Workplace (Communication)'. The meeting was attended by cluster members in Warwick, Bologna and Monash Universities. In this introductory event we had the chance to meet the cluster members, talk about our individual projects and identify common interests. We also discussed about the future activities of the cluster. We agreed that our meetings should include some reading and discussion on contemporary work on professional communication and the study of identity, but also more practical sessions, where we could share part of our data and discuss our analytical and methodological decisions or even seek advice from our co-members.
Although this was just the first meeting of the research cluster, we also discussed about the prospect of having a panel on professional communication in the I-mean 5 conference in April 2017 in Bristol. We all agreed that we would be interested in pursuing this opportunity, so in the following days we booked some slots for our panel in the conference and we also decided and wrote the panel abstract. Our next meeting will take place at the beginning of March.
8th of March 2017
Our second cluster meeting took place on the 8th of March. In the first part of this meeting we discussed Stephanie's Schnurr chapter on 'Identities in the Workplace' and members shared their ideas on how to research identity in professional contexts. In the second part of the meeting, Christina Efthymiadou shared some of her ethnographic data with cluster members and discussed how she analysed it. A frutiful dialogue was initiated with regards to methodological issues regarding narrative analysis.
Panel in iMean5 Conference
7th of April 2017
Seven of the 'Identity and Workplace Communication' MITN cluster members (Rachel Chimbwete-Phiri, Daniel Clayton, Chiara Nardone, Christina Efthymiadou, Kristina Humonen, Polina Mesinioti and Kyoungmi Kim) participated in the iMean 5 conference in UWE Bristol and held a panel 'Exploring multidisciplinarity in workplace studies'. The panel presentations brought together perspectives of professional communication fields, and was followed by a round table discussion facilitated by Jo Angouri and Meredith Marra and a publishing workshop by Multilingual Matters. The panel was well attended and our work was very well received attracting many nice comments.
Panel in Language, Translation, and Migration: Conference and Public Summit 2018, Warwick University
24-26 May 2018
Four members of the Identity and Workplace Communication' MITN cluster (Christina Efthymiadou, Olha Shmihelska, Daniel Clayton, Kristina Humonen) and the Monash PhD represenative Lola Sundin, participated in the Language, Translation, and Migration: Conference and Public Summit 2018 and hold a panel on the topic of 'Working with Informants'. The panel members shared their experiences of conducting fieldwork for their doctoral projects, including challenges they faced while negotiating access and recruting participants and positioning themselves in the field. The panel was very well attended and steemed discussion on researchers' identities in ethnographic studies (issues of power assymetry and gender). And we were all honoured when the panel was characterised on twitter as the 'highlight of the conference'!
Shown from left to right: Kristina Humonen, Christina Efthymiadou, Lola Sundin, Ohla Shmihelska, Dan Clayton.
Cluster events and announcements:
'Working with Informants'-panel in Language, Translation, and Migration: Conference and Public Summit 2018, Warwick University
24-26 May 2018
Christina Efthymiadou, Olha Shmihelska, Daniel Clayton, Kristina Humonen and Lola Sundn will reflect on their experiences of doing ethnographic research for their PhD projects.
A central aspect of all research projects is the data collection stage. Researchers spend considerable time striving to gain access to specific societal and organisational contexts. This is particularly true in the case of qualitative studies where close interpersonal interaction such as that typified by ethnographic approaches closely follows getting one’s “foot in the door”. This period is fraught with many pitfalls that can determine the kind of data that researchers have to work with. For example, research can stall when attempting to build trust with a key gatekeeper or senior figures within an organisation may deem the desired site of research to be off limits at the specific point in time. Even when full access has been granted social scientists are faced with the significant challenge of building rapport with informants in the pursuit of eliciting “natural” data.
For those of us who seek to foreground language use in social phenomena these aspects of the data collection process present both challenges and opportunities. For example, the idea that interviews are co-constructed between researcher and interviewee (s), is not new. Visible (or latent) power asymmetry can influence what informants reveal and how they reveal it. However, diligent reflexivity during the data collection period allows the researcher to take stock of how informant interaction is moulded by aspects such as rapport, motivation and power.
With this in mind our panel seeks to address the following questions:
- What challenges have we faced gaining access in the field and how did we cope with them?
- What types of relationships have developed between us and participants?
- How have these relationships affected the data collection and analysis process?
- How have they become relevant to our projects?
Our next cluster meeting is planned for the end of May 2017. More information will follow shortly.
Panel in i-Mean 5
In the context of the i-Mean 5 Conference in Bristol (6-8 April, 2017), the 'Identity and Workplace Communication' MITN cluster is organising a panel which aims to brink together professional communication scholars to reflect on : 'Exploring multidisciplinarity in workplace studies'. We focus on (socio)linguistic research and analysis and consider how our work can benefit from multidisciplinarity without ending in ‘a jack of all trades’ position and losing the strengths of in depth linguistic theoretical tools and analysis.
The panel consists of 6 papers addressing the topic followed by a round table discussion.