Accepted Paper:

Subjects' performance as a response to the social proximity with the researcher - reflections on conducting interviews within the researcher's own migrant group.  


Justyna Samolyk

Paper short abstract:

In the proposed paper, using the hitherto conducted 20 narrative interviews, I will present examples of the interviewees’ constructions of self and their almost simultaneous interpretations of these constructions. Additionally, based on preliminary analysis, I intend to introduce some reflections on the impact of the social proximity with the interviewees on my interpretations of the collected stories.

Paper long abstract:

In my doctoral research, I am using narrative interviews (Schütze, 1992) as a means of collecting the stories of Polish post-accession migrants' move to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a particular interest in the maintenance and shaping of their interpersonal relations.

The study's focus on post-accession migrants can be explained by the fact that before May 2004, when Poland joined the European Union, there were very few Polish immigrants in Northern Ireland . However, in 2007 several sources published an estimate of around 30,000 Polish immigrants living in Northern Ireland. Such a distinct starting point in this particular migratory flow enables the tackling of stories of concurrent migration, thereby learning about different perceptions of the move.

In this study I am interested in immigrants' interpretations of their positions and relations in Northern Ireland as well as their reactions to those interpretations (Blumer 1986: 5-6) and therefore, the interviews are designed to record participants' perceptions rather than 'the objective reality'. Hence, I acknowledge the interview as an arena for such interpretations and for adjusting one's performance accordingly. This is particularly important in the situation of social proximity of the interviewer with interviewees. In the case of my research, the shared nationality and experience of migration are additionally the subject of the interview, making the bond between me as a 'Polish researcher' distinctive in the relationship with the participants.

Panel P05
The subject(ivity) of the interview: performance and construction in anthropology and sociology