“Always been an Alien” - A qualitative study on how multilingual young adults experience and navigate identity and belonging in Skopje, North Macedonia.
Abstract: This study offers empirical arguments for how multilingual young adults navigate and experience identity and belonging in Skopje. A city reported to be, one of the most multicultural cities in South-East Europe, where ethnic exclusion and interethnic segregation is outmost present (Veron, 2016:1448; Stojanov, 2020:74). Raising awareness of multilingual youth can contribute to more inspiration and research being conducted in the field of social work. As a result, social workers can provide relevant expertise to assist multilingual service users, so oppression of their multilingual identity can be reduced. Using a thematic analysis method in conjunction with a life course theory, qualitative methods were selected to carry out semi-structured interviews that allowed for open answers and good analytics. Information letters and snowball sampling were used to attract the attention of 14 respondents. Results imply that prior history, politics, geographical location and ethnic affiliation affects how the multilingual youths experience and navigate identity and belonging in Skopje. When respondents are in minority groups or are perceived to transgress ethnic lines, they clearly experience misrecognition. Language seems to be an important indicator of affiliation, identification, and alliance among ethnic groups, and ethnic groupings appear to enforce ethnic boundaries. Certain ethnicities are more susceptible to being negatively impacted by stereotypes, while other ethnicities are presumably more likely to get recognition for their identity. Study revealed that multilingualism appears to work in the respondents favor as an enabling mechanism to navigate through the difficulties and exhibit indicators of excellent mental health and belonging.
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