‘Identity’ and ‘belonging’ in the personal lives of high-status professionals living in the UK: a shift from conflicted ‘self’ and ‘other’ relations and a move towards the centrality of human to non-human relations

PhD Thesis

Amina Kebabi 2022. ‘Identity’ and ‘belonging’ in the personal lives of high-status professionals living in the UK: a shift from conflicted ‘self’ and ‘other’ relations and a move towards the centrality of human to non-human relations. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Centre for Language and Linguistics
AuthorsAmina Kebabi
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

This study explores the ways in which a group of high-status professionals in the UK who happen to be academics, and who come from other ‘national backgrounds’ construct their
‘identities’ and ‘belonging’ in their personal everyday lives, outside of the context of academia.

It reveals the necessity to rethink the way researchers present participants, and how far we perpetuate naïve categorisation of them. It also demonstrates that ‘identity’ is constructed in relation to processes involved in ‘self’ and ‘other’ relations where, according to the coparticipants, perceptions of them by ‘some white British’ people based on ‘race’ and ‘accent’ are omnipresent. As such being ‘British’ is suggested to be defined by these markers. There is multiplicity in how ‘belonging’ is constructed through the concept of ‘home’. It reflects ‘place belongingness’ and demonstrates ‘hybridity’, which by implication resists ‘politics of belonging’ manifested in the discriminatory perceptions based on ‘race’ and ‘accent’. Furthermore, the data reveals that ‘identity’ is also constructed in relation to non-human categories.

It, therefore, contributes to the ‘politics of labelling’ by interrogating political concepts. It also contributes to the study of ‘identity’ by showing its complexity in terms of the processes which emerge in ‘self’ and ‘other’ relations, as well as by emphasising the significance of human to non-human relations. Another contribution concerns emphasising the multiplicity of ‘belonging’. A further contribution is illuminating the deep prejudice in society.

I situate this study within the broad field of intercultural communication, and I use three main theories: critical cosmopolitan theory, critical posthuman theory, and a theory of ‘belonging’.

Before moving to the implications of this study I would like to emphasise the fact that it could have been conducted with a different group of high-status professional people outside of academia. Nevertheless, one of the major implications is that, despite the co-participants’ high status, the discrimination they encounter interrogates the assumption that their high professional status protects them from prejudice; this indicates the extent to which prejudice is deeply rooted in society. The second implication is that there is racism in the institution the co-participants belong to.

KeywordsHigh-status professionals; Personal lives; Identity; Belonging
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Publication process dates
Deposited20 Sep 2022
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