A Dialogical Approach to Place Identity

jennacondie railBetter late than never, here is the abstract for my talk at the 8th International Conference on the Dialogical Self 19-22 August 2014, The Hague University, The Netherlands. A Dialogical Approach to ‘Place Identity’ In our increasingly urbanised, globalised, and digital world, the relationship between ‘place’ and ‘identity’ has come under renewed focus. Although the importance of ‘place’ as a traditional structure for ‘identity’ has been questioned, research continues to demonstrate that ‘who we are’ and ‘where we are’ are mutually constitutive. The concept of ‘place’ incorporates the notion that people take an agentic role and imbue the physical environments they inhabit with meaning. ‘Identity’ can be considered as ‘motive’ for place constructions as people negotiate who they are, position themselves in relation to ‘place’, and present themselves to others in social interactions. Thus, when ‘place’ and ‘identity’ are situated within dialogue, ‘place’ becomes a resource for use in ‘identity work’. This paper focuses on how a dialogical approach to ‘place’ and ‘identity’ furthered understandings of residents’ experiences of living with environmental conditions that can be considered ‘disruptive’. Data from doctoral research is discussed where ten qualitative interviews were generated with twelve residents living alongside railways, specifically the West Coast Main Line, UK. The research aimed to examine how people negotiate the environmental conditions associated with railways within talk around ‘place’ and ‘identity’. Using a discursive psychological approach, participants were multivoiced, positioning themselves as both annoyed and adapted to ‘place’ and ‘disruption’. Lived ideologies of ‘the rural idyll’ and ‘a peaceful and quiet place’ reflected the voices of others where railways were negotiated as unwanted and undesirable aspects of ‘place’. Like people, ‘place’ is never finalised as identities are created within dialogical interactions. This conference seems like a great place to present the theoretical contributions of my PhD work. A couple of months have past since I submitted the final version of my thesis and to be honest, I’ve been putting off looking at it ever again! Preparing this abstract has meant that I have actually opened my thesis document and I’ve also been back into my interview transcripts. Attending the conference seems like a promising way to get back into my work and start drafting journal papers for publication.  Any feedback on my abstract would be much appreciated:)

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