Identity Construction of Vietnamese Immigrants living in Finland in Their Narratives Telling About Their Life Experiences
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Accelerated globalization has motivated people to become more aware of the differences existing among us. While diversity is embraced, it appears to pose uncertainty at the same time, leading to a phenomenon addressed as “crisis of belonging” (Dervin & Risager, 2015, p. 8). This phenomenon is one of the reasons drawing more people’s attention to the question of identity, challenging the pre-existing approach in viewing identity as stable and fixed psychological entity. With that in mind, I approached the Vietnamese immigrants living in Finland to ask for their participation in this study, so that the taken-for-granted social categories and preset images used for identifying immigrants were examined critically. I set up more than one meeting with each study participant to collect the data. While the method is acknowledged to be similar to semi-structured interview, these meetings were still treated as casual conversations between me and my study participants. The meetings were recorded and transcribed. In order to study the fluidity and continuity of people’s identities throughout their courses of life, the transcripts were analyzed applying Narrative Analysis. The data reveals that the participants’ identities constructed are flexible in accordance with the meanings used to make sense of them; hence, their identities presented in this study are merely temporary, locating in their specific social interactions with me. Their identities also appeared to be multi-faceted and continuous throughout their lives, which are in relations with the others in their story-worlds, as well as in relation with me, as the ‘other’ in the interactional world. Besides, the data suggests these study participants’ identities were not bounded to a few pre-determined social categories, but they reflect a complex picture in comprehending a person’s identity. Furthermore, the findings also reflected their experiences being immigrants living in Finland, showcasing that the categories and the knowledge people draw on for their sense-making processes are socially constructed by human themselves. Similarly, the pre-existing identity categories are also socially constructed, which should not be considered as ‘naturalized’ knowledge. Based on the findings of this study, I want to recommend people to avoid identifying themselves and others in terms of preset categories, but understand themselves more as a continuous process along their lives. ...
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