Narrative analysis of oral interviews with new citizens in Singapore: Understanding constancy and change in self-representations and identity navigation

Project Number
RP 1/16 SML

Project Duration
November 2016 - January 2017

Status
Completed

Abstract
Despite increasing interest from the public as well as policy analysts in the social integration and rootedness of new citizens in Singapore, there has been a lack of academic studies on how new citizens navigate their identities as they adopt the social norms and cultural practices of the new society. Although there have been a few studies which examined the ways in which new citizens in Singapore are represented by the mainstream news media, their self-representations, when recounting their experiences about life situations in their countries of origin and relating them to their current commitment for the nation that they were naturalized into, have rarely been examined. This project aims to explore self-representations and identity navigation of new citizens in Singapore through a systematic narrative analysis of oral interviews with them which were conducted and documented by the Oral History Centre, National Archives of Singapore during the period of 2012 and 2015 under the “New Citizens” project. Specifically, drawing on the dimension of constancy and change as the conceptual framework for research on narrative and identity construction, this project will investigate an issue of current theoretical and practical interests – i.e. how new citizens navigate their identities by highlighting a sense of self as having undergone some form of discontinuity from who they used to be (i.e. change) and a sense of self with some form of continuity from who they used to be (i.e. constancy). A study on the representations of self over time (with possibilities of a constructive balance or dilemma in connecting what remains constant and what changes in the representation of self across a period of time or at different points/stages of life situations) is highly pertinent and important for understanding the self-representations and identity navigation of new citizens.

Funding Source
NTU

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