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Translanguaging health: navigating antenatal consultations in a superdiverse setting

Brooks, Emma Jane; (2020) Translanguaging health: navigating antenatal consultations in a superdiverse setting. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Against the backdrop of an established literature on doctor/patient relationships and mediated intercultural health interaction, this thesis uses a linguistic ethnographic lens to illuminate the complex communicative considerations of contemporary antenatal consultations, in a superdiverse London hospital. At a time when the NHS is compelled to respond to evolving and rapidly changing populations, and given its own increasingly international workforce, the study explores how such diversity is construed and navigated in institutional and practical terms, whilst simultaneously drawing attention to emergent communicative features which are said to be inherent to heterogeneous populations. Over a period of six months, twelve antenatal appointments were observed, recorded and transcribed, before being analysed, using methods associated with interactional sociolinguistics. Moving away from traditional notions of fixity, findings appear to indicate that, in the (frequent) absence of a professional interpreter, or proficiency in the dominant language associated with institutional and national concerns, participants draw on the breadth of their linguistic and semiotic resources to navigate understanding. Recognition of linguistic hybridity/bricolage extends the concept of a translanguaging space to institutional settings, allowing creativity and flexibility to flourish, especially for individuals in possession of, what has been referred to as, a translanguaging instinct. Indeed, midwives appear to disrupt understandings of medical discourse as asymmetrical, as they seek to establish an atmosphere of conviviality. Yet tensions lie in the epistemological emancipation and parity that the conditions of superdiverse consultations seem to imply. While the pursuit of clarity may be facilitated by flexible repertoires, such circumstances may obscure issues of participant comprehension, and therefore hold the potential for situational, or clinical, consequences. Similarly, although languaging practices appear to transcend bounded notions of language, they nevertheless remain contingent on the flexibility of the personal and institutional affordances available – the instigation of which ultimately rest with those in positions of authority.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Translanguaging health: navigating antenatal consultations in a superdiverse setting
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100696
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