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The fragility of ‘white Irish’ as a minority ethnic identity in England

The fragility of ‘white Irish’ as a minority ethnic identity in England
The fragility of ‘white Irish’ as a minority ethnic identity in England
This paper is a methodological reflection on the experiences of a white Irish woman researching ethnicity in England. Ethnic identity is described as a performance between two social actors that requires the collusion of both parties in order to be socially accepted. The history and disputes around the white Irish ethnic group category in England are discussed. Through the use of fieldnotes and interview extracts, I discuss how I became aware that my ethnic identity was not always recognised by participants, and in some cases the distinction between white Irish and white British was denied. At the micro level this affects my rapport with individual participants, while at the macro level it resonates with historical relationships between Ireland and England. I argue that such experiences can lead to an existential threat to a person’s ethnic identity and therefore that the status of white Irish identity in England can be fragile.
0141-9870
1681-1699
Willis, Rosalind
dd2e5e10-58bf-44ca-9c04-f355f3af26ba
Willis, Rosalind
dd2e5e10-58bf-44ca-9c04-f355f3af26ba

Willis, Rosalind (2017) The fragility of ‘white Irish’ as a minority ethnic identity in England. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40 (10), 1681-1699. (doi:10.1080/01419870.2016.1229486).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper is a methodological reflection on the experiences of a white Irish woman researching ethnicity in England. Ethnic identity is described as a performance between two social actors that requires the collusion of both parties in order to be socially accepted. The history and disputes around the white Irish ethnic group category in England are discussed. Through the use of fieldnotes and interview extracts, I discuss how I became aware that my ethnic identity was not always recognised by participants, and in some cases the distinction between white Irish and white British was denied. At the micro level this affects my rapport with individual participants, while at the macro level it resonates with historical relationships between Ireland and England. I argue that such experiences can lead to an existential threat to a person’s ethnic identity and therefore that the status of white Irish identity in England can be fragile.

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More information

Submitted date: 13 August 2015
Accepted/In Press date: 15 August 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 9 September 2016
Published date: 1 August 2017
Additional Information: Funded by NIHR: School for Social Care Research (SSCR) (T976/T11-017/USRW)
Organisations: Gerontology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 398291
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/398291
ISSN: 0141-9870
PURE UUID: 558524bb-3898-4c60-a149-0427af246df2
ORCID for Rosalind Willis: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6687-5799

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Jul 2016 08:58
Last modified: 08 Jan 2022 06:34

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