Telling the collective story? Moroccan-Dutch young adults’ negotiation of a collective identity through storytelling

J.A. Prins, J. van Stekelenburg, F. Polletta, P.G. Klandermans

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Researchers taking a social constructionist perspective on identity agree that identities are constructed and negotiated in interaction. However, empirical studies in this field are often based on interviewer-interviewee interaction or focus on interactions with members of a socially dominant out-group. How identities are negotiated in interaction with in-group members remains understudied. In this article we use a narrative approach to study identity negotiation among Moroccan-Dutch young adults, who constitute both an ethnic and a religious (Muslim) minority in the Netherlands. Our analysis focuses on the topics that appear in focus group participants' stories and on participants' responses to each other's stories. We find that Moroccan-Dutch young adults collectively narrate their experiences in Dutch society in terms of discrimination and injustice. Firmly grounded in media discourse and popular wisdom, a collective narrative of a disadvantaged minority identity emerges. However, we also find that this identity is not uncontested. We use the concept of second stories to explain how participants negotiate their collective identity by alternating stories in which the collective experience of deprivation is reaffirmed with stories in which challenging or new evaluations of the collective experience are offered. In particular, participants narrate their personal experiences to challenge recurring evaluations of discrimination and injustice. A new collective narrative emerges from this work of joint storytelling. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-99
JournalQualitative Sociology
Issue number1
Early online date9 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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