Iterative Micro-Identity Content Analysis: Studying Identity Development within and across Real-Time Interactions

Jan Ole H. Gmelin*, E. Saskia Kunnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Identity development occurs in the context of real-time interactions. However, existing research on interactions has focused on identity processes and little is known about identity content development within interactions. We define real-time identity as claims about selves, formulated in the service of an interactional “social business.” The aim of this methodological paper is to introduce Iterative Micro-Content Analysis (IMICA) as an approach to studying the changes and consistencies in real-time identity content. We outline four key principles of IMICA and offer a step by step guide to its analytic stages. We provide two worked examples for illustration: a video-recorded conversation between two young women on the topic of “love and desire,” and audio-recorded speed-dating conversations between young same-sex attracted men. The worked examples demonstrate how IMICA can be used to study how identity claims change within a single interaction as well as across multiple interactions. We argue that IMICA’s empirical insights into the concrete mechanisms through which social interactions shape identities are of both theoretical and practical relevance. We discuss how IMICA may allow for a micro-level operationalization of macro-level concepts (e.g., exploration or identity centrality), outline how it may be combined with quantitative analyses, and discuss its limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-340
Number of pages17
JournalIdentity
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date29-Sep-2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • identity content
  • Identity development
  • real-time processes
  • social context

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