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Language, Youth and Identity among Polish Families in Norway (completed)

The main purpose of the project is to provide knowledge on language and identity among Polish families in Norway. This PhD project is part of the MultiFam project.


Maria Obojska.

Photo: Nadia Frantsen, UiO.

About the project 

Although Poles are the largest immigrant group in Norway (Statistics Norway, 2015), there is hardly any knowledge on language use and virtually no studies on their identity constructions in the Norwegian setting. The aim of the study is to fill this knowledge gap and contribute to a deeper understanding of the linguistic and social situation of Polish immigrants and of Polish adolescents in particular.

The following questions will serve to address the research objectives: 1) How do the adolescents and their parents relate to the various languages in their lives and what emotions do they attach to their linguistic resources? 2) How do the family members construct their identities through language in family interactions? 3) How do the adolescents position themselves linguistically and socially in computer mediated communication (CMC)? 4) How do the participants experience, act and relate to media representation of Polish migrants in Norway? 5) How do Polish adolescents and their parents position themselves in interactions at/with Norwegian schools?

The term “identity” is employed here, after Norton (2013), “as the way a person understands his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how the person understands possibilities for the future”.

The following methods are envisaged to be used for the study purpose:

  1. Semi-structured interviews with the participants will be conducted throughout the study in order to deepen the researcher’s understanding of the identities constructed by the participants in different settings.
  2. Language portrait silhouette (Busch, 2011) will be employed to investigate how the participants position the importance of various languages in their lives and what emotional and attitudinal meanings they attach to their linguistic resources in the context of their language biographies. The task will be complemented by individual conversations between the participants and the researcher, in which detailed explanations on the portraits created will be sought.
  3. Monitoring CMC of the adolescent participants - CMC is increasingly used not only as means of gaining and exchanging information but also as ways of experimenting with identity construction and as such will be of interest to my study (Jordán-Conde, Mennecke, & Townsend, 2014).
  4. Focus group discussions (separate for adults and adolescents) will be organized for the purposes of the project. Short video clips will be used in order to stimulate a discussion on what it means to be Polish in the multicultural society of Norway and to elicit language ideologies of the participants.
  5. Recordings of family interactions and follow-up interviews - in order to collect samples of authentic communication in the family-setting, recordings of interactions at home will be made. The recordings will provide an insight into language practices of the families in question and will document how the participants construct their linguistic and cultural identities in interactions within the family. Follow-up interviews with the family members will be organized in order to discuss family language policies and the driving forces behind them.


October 2015 – October 2018

Published May 19, 2016 1:34 PM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2020 10:26 AM


Maria Obojska