Thesis

Towards a Sociology of Interpreting: The Embedded Strangers

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the profession of conference interpreting, adopting a comparative analysis of the profession as a social practice in the United Kingdom and Japan. Conference interpreting is a specialised, cognitively challenging oral language translation service, used in high-level settings such as diplomacy, business, politics, and supranational institutions. Interpreters translate a speaker's message from one language to another to their clients, either simultaneously, whilst the speaker speaks, or consecutively, after the speaker has spoken. Interpreting has a peculiar organisation as a profession: Performing as the voices of other individuals, interpreters are bound by their code of conduct to work by collaborating in teams, observe strict professional rules, and provide seamless communication as if they were invisible in the interaction. This organisation helps interpreters to avoid or hide failure which, when it occurs, happens in “real-time” and publicly under the eyes of users and colleagues, with potentially damaging consequences for professional reputation and status. Drawing upon a practice theories approach, this thesis analyses interpreting as an integrative professional practice, focusing on its organisation and on the concrete practices of interpreters to understand how their expertise and professional status are organised, and tied to local socio-cultural specificities of the Japanese and British markets for linguistic services. Previous research has explored interpreting as a discourse process, as a social activity, and as a profession, but has failed to address how the distinctive features of interpreting as a social practice affect questions of expertise, failure, and status relations in the profession. This thesis argues that we can only resolve these gaps by looking at interpreters’ practical accomplishments and professional struggles as the result of the collective organisation of the practice. Hence, the thesis addresses these questions: How does the distinctive nature of conference interpreting as an integrative social practice of mediated communication affect the organisation and performance of interpreters’ expertise? How does the social organisation of interpreting expertise affect how the practice is understood by clients, and impact on interpreters’ professional status, and their social relations on the job? This thesis argues that the collectively steered, constitutive features of interpreting have particular implications for how the expertise of interpreters and its aspects are reproduced and organised in performances. In addition, this thesis argues that such distinctive features relate to how expertise is produced, organised, and operationalised in performances and have particular implications for how interpreters’ expertise is understood by clients. The thesis is based on qualitative ethnographic “insider” research on the interpreting profession in the UK and in Japan, conducted through interviews, participant observations, and analysis of documents and material artefacts, a combination undertaken to account for the macro and micro dimensions of the practice. My thesis shows that interpreting is a professional practice characterised by power struggles and the “invisibilisation” of interpreters’ expertise which arise out of the particular organisation of the practice. The social organisation of the practice establishes expertise in interpreting as the “invisibilisation” of the interpreter in a seamless “flow” of successful communication, with the interpreter’s role only becoming “visible” to clients in communication breakdown and failure. Therefore, interpreters are “embedded strangers” in their own professional practice. However, this creates tensions for interpreters around the management of failure, the joint nature of success or failure in teams, and the display and recognition of expertise. Despite codified rules of practice which exert a strong normative force, interpreters often bend the rules in their favour to cover their failures and enhance their successful performances. Because of the invisibilised nature of their expertise, interpreters struggle to maintain their professional status with clients and wider lay society. This causes precarious relationships with colleagues, and competitive power struggles in order to insulate themselves from team-members’ failures and also to increase the visibility of their own expertise in the eyes of clients.

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... Thus, their non-native language would be in most cases weaker, given the need to use it actively and scarce opportunities to practise it. However, for the needs of the private market, interpreters (for instance in Europe) increasingly train and work bidirectionally in one of their non-native languages (Giustini, 2018). ...
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« Le bénéficiaire du majorat le fils premier-né, appartient à la terre. Elle en hérite. » K. Marx, Ébauche d'une critique de l'économie politique. Le fait que les pratiques par lesquelles les paysans béarnais tendaient à assurer la reproduction de la lignée en même temps que la reproduction de ses droits sur les instruments de production présentent des régularités évidentes, n'autorise pas à y voir le produit de l'obéissance à des règles. .
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Drawing upon ethnographic data, this article analyses 'vocabularies of motive' amongst individuals who work out at a private health club in the Greater Manchester area (UK). The article draws a distinction between motives for starting at a gym and motives for continuing, and analyses each separately. It also seeks to draw out, in the latter case, the many motives which conflict with a stereotypical view of 'working out' found in some academic accounts. Working out is not only an instrumental means of cultivating valued bodily attributes, it is argued, nor are its attractions necessarily all 'bodily' (at least narrowly defined) in nature.
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This article aims to do two things. The first of these is to introduce the concept of reflexive body techniques into the debate on body modification/maintenance. The value of the concept in relation to this debate, in part, is that it ensures that we conceive of the body as both a subject and an object, modifier and modified, and that we thereby avoid the trap of conceptualizing modification in dualistic (mind/body or body/society) terms. Second, the article seeks to explore the pattern of distribution of practices of modification (conceived as reflexive body techniques) through society and to reflect upon the potential usefulness of multi-dimensional scaling as a tool for doing this. This aim is related to the first aim as it is argued that the concept of reflexive body techniques serves to identify and anchor practices ofmodification in a way that is amenable to both quantitative and qualitative forms of analysis, as well as theoretical investigation.
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Cultural intelligence has various meanings that can be looked on as complementary. On one hand, it refers to behaviors that are considered intelligent from the point of view of people in specific cultures. Such behaviors can include quick application of previously learned information in some cultures, getting along with kin in other cultures, and slow and deliberate consideration of alternative courses of action in still other cultures. On the other hand, cultural intelligence can also refer to the traits and skills of people who adjust quickly, with minimal stress, when they interact extensively in cultures other than the ones where they were socialized. The two uses of the term are related because people who want to be sensitive to other scan examine intelligence as it is defined and demonstrated in other cultures and can make adjustments in their own behaviors during their cross-cultural experiences.
Article
Within organizational research, the subject of insider academic research has received relatively little consideration. By insider research, we mean research by complete members of organizational systems in and on their own organizations. Insider research can be undertaken within any of the three major research paradigms—positivism, hermeneutics, and action research—selected and presented in this article. First, we revisit some of the established research paradigms to see what position they might have on insider research. Second, we explore the dynamics of insider research under the headings of access, preunderstanding, role duality, and managing organizational politics. Our conclusion is that within each of the main streams of research, there is no inherent reason why being native is an issue and that the value of insider research is worth reaffirming.