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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Identities form and develop through the experience of encountering the world on a day-to-day basis. The world we encounter is pre-interpreted, it presents itself to us as a largely undifferentiated and tacit background against which we organize our experience and make sense of ourselves. Pre-interpretation means that it is often difficult to disentangle identities from the worlds we inhabit unless something goes wrong and we are compelled actively to reflect on the situation at hand. This chapter proposes a phenomenological perspective on identity based on the concept of ‘noise’. Noise refers to any instance that violates the background expectancies of everyday life and calls for interpretation on the part of those who experience it. The author argues that noise can pose identity threats when it challenges the ‘pre-interpreted world’ that we would normally take for granted and enact in everyday situations. At the same time, noise also provides researchers with an opportunity to account for the ways in which individuals experience and understand the worlds of which they are part.

Keywords: noise, pre-interpretation, phenomenology identity, identity threat, identity work

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