Article in:Narrative Inquiry: Online-First Articles
Catching identities in flight
Sharing stories of discriminatory experiences during workplace small talk
We present a case study of a small talk sequence in a Belgian workplace between two female colleagues with a migration background, in which they share stories with each other on racial micro-aggressions they personally experienced. We draw on the social practice approach and focus on the narrators’ identity work in this interaction. We found that the narrators construct stories in which powerless and outgroup identities are projected upon them in the storyworld, but by means of which more empowered identities and an ingroup with the interlocutor are talked into being in the storytelling world. Interestingly, these findings can be linked to the rejection-identification dynamic. This social psychological model shows that individuals who experienced discrimination are able to buffer negative consequences to their psychological well-being by identifying with the group that is discriminated against. This article adds to this earlier research by showing the crucial role of language, in particular of storytelling and small talk, in this rejection-identification dynamic.
Keywords: small talk, discriminatory experiences, racial micro-aggressions, second generation migration background, second stories, rejection, identification
Published online: 02 July 2020
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