Negotiating identities in the context of social work goals: The case of an intercultural institutional interaction

M. van der Haar, D. van de Mieroop

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    We discuss the implications of identities constructed by an Afghan client in a conversation with her Dutch social worker. In this institutional interaction, the professional's dominant position is both underlined and mitigated, and there is room for topic initiation by the client as well. We singled out 2 crucial client identities that appear to produce diverging interpretations: (a) the fearful woman and (b) the shameful woman. The former is discussed at great length and is linked to the institutional agenda. The latter, however, does not seem to comply with the empowerment discourse currently present in Dutch social work. In spite of the social worker's attempts to reframe this identity, the client persists and relates her feelings of shame to her cultural background, which functions as an explanatory factor in the interaction. The enacted roles of both participants lay bare the social work tension of intervening in people's lives while taking into account the client's perspective and social work goals. Furthermore, this interaction is a good illustration of the way a migrant's identities are performed and negotiated in an encounter with a host country other.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)364-386
    Number of pages23
    JournalResearch on Language and Social Interaction
    Volume41
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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