Negotiating the in-between : how two foreigners living in rural Japan narrated changes in their identities : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Education (Guidance Studies), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis used narrative inquiry to find out how two foreigners, who had resided in rural Japan for a long period of time, narrated reflectively how they had changed as a result of their cross-cultural transitions. This thesis came about through my own transition experiences in Japan leading to a hybrid, bicultural notion of myself, and my subsequent curiosity as to how others underwent changes in identity, possibly leading also to hybrid selves. Each participant was interviewed twice. Their changes were contextualised within dominant themes arising from their life stories. In addition, they were analysed using a modified version of Herbert Hermans' personal position repertoire (2001), which was able to identify key identity positions and underlying beliefs that aided or hindered their transitions. This research found that the participants' respective dominant life themes of estrangement and communion had major impacts on their cross cultural transitions, local relationships, and life satisfaction. The first participant followed a theme of estrangement and evoked identity positions and imagined audiences to justify his stance. The second participant took on a learning model to enhance her relationships with the local Japanese, resulting in alterity, the incorporation of a Japanese identity position in her own personal position repertoire and subsequently a hybrid self. In both participants some identity positions were aligned to Japanese ways of being, consequently coming to the fore in their psyches, whereas others were subjugated. Also new positions were incorporated, while others were lost, with affective outcomes. The participants' transitions were impacted on by their environments. The first participant initially worked within a foreign enclave and had no close personal Japanese friends. The second participant was immersed in local public schools and enjoyed high recognition in her small, rural town. Motivating factors for being in Japan were also found to be of consequence for the participants' cross-cultural transitions. This thesis was able to capture the complexity of the participants' cross-cultural transitions through considering them as having multiple selves that were revealed through reflective life stories and collated within a personal position repertoire.