Gendering migration narratives
a qualitative inquiry on language use and agency in adaptation stories
Keywords:narrative, gender, agency, Turkish immigrants, United Kingdom
The present study is an attempt to explore gendered construction of agency in and through personal narratives in the context of migration with a group of young Turks in the UK. Narratives relating the initial phase of migration were analysed via a systematic comparison regarding the construction of themes, the structure of narratives and performance in male and female migration stories. In men’s narratives, protagonists’ personal agency -their capacity to act on resources to adapt- appears to centre on their ability to distance themselves from vulnerabilities. However, preserving the protagonist from vulnerabilities to assign him an agentic position restricts the narrator’s ability to tell varied stories. In young women’s narratives, vulnerabilities are constructed as the main basis for their present identities and capabilities. Although this construction provides young women with a flexible position as a narrator and a protagonist, personal agency is constructed in a split manner.
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