Accepted Paper:

'People like us can't say that': The Irish professional social class talk about their attitudes to immigrants  

Author:

Martina Byrne (Trinity College Dublin)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws on preliminary results from the first in-depth qualitative peer research into the attitudes of the Irish professional social class towards immigrants, a social class which, surprisingly, feels its ‘voice’ on immigration is muted by ‘political correctness'.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws on preliminary results from the first in-depth research into the attitudes of the Irish professional social class towards immigrants in contemporary Ireland. This qualitative peer research examines what informs these attitudes, and if/how racialised Irish and 'other' identities are constructed. Despite, or because of, their socio-economic and political power, the intersection of the professional social class with immigrants is under-researched throughout Europe. This research addresses that gap and problematises the 'common-sense' acceptance that professionals have, by virtue of their social class position and education, positive attitudes towards immigrants.

Undertaking peer research, as well as enabling access, positions me as 'more than a stranger, less than a friend' and reduces the amount of generic information offered, moving the interviews towards the personal -for the interviewer too- so it is useful to code my conversation too. The interviews are as close as possible to informal peer conversations.

With sensitive topics such as race, ethnicity, and immigration there is a tendency for interviewees to avoid issues and certain words, however even with these subjects informal in-depth interviews yield rich data for attitudinal analyses. My background also equips me with knowledge of the cultural norms and discourse nuances of the interviewees which helps with coding.

Contrary to expectation, the participation rate is almost 100%, even among longitudinal interviewees. Also, contrary to what some sociologists might think, this social class feels its opinions on immigration are not elicited and that 'political correctness' has muted their 'voice'.

Panel P12
The use of the Interview by peer and user researchers with 'seldom heard' groups