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Identity and action: Help-seeking requests in calls to a victim support service

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posted on 21.02.2022, 21:39 authored by Emma TennentEmma Tennent
The nature of the link between identity and action is a fundamental question for social science. One focus in psychology is how actions like seeking help are implicated in matters of identity. This paper presents a discursive psychology study of identity and help in social interaction. Drawing on a corpus of nearly 400 recorded calls to a victim support helpline, I analysed how participants oriented to the link between identity and help. With attention to epistemic, deontic, and affective relations between participants, I analysed how identity was demonstrably relevant and procedurally consequential for building and interpreting help-seeking requests. Participants displayed an understanding that seeking help from Victim Support necessarily implicates identity. Callers’ identities as victims or clients rendered their help-seeking accountable and invoked identities for call-takers as representatives of a support service. The findings show that identity and help are mutually constitutive. Seeking help constituted callers’ identities as victims; and their identities as victims constituted their requests for help. I suggest that analysing identity and help in social interaction provides evidence for the mutually constitutive link between identity and action.

History

Preferred citation

Tennent, E. (2021). Identity and action: Help-seeking requests in calls to a victim support service. British Journal of Social Psychology, 60(4), 1241-1261. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12448

Journal title

British Journal of Social Psychology

Volume

60

Issue

4

Publication date

01/10/2021

Pagination

1241-1261

Publisher

Wiley

Publication status

Published

Online publication date

12/02/2021

ISSN

0144-6665

eISSN

2044-8309

Language

en