Literature review

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There is a large body of literature in my research area, stemming from as diverse fields as linguistics, anthropology, education, communication, psychology and cultural studies. It has extensively explored transcultural sojourners’ experience, levels of participation in their new cultural environment, and relevant stages of personal change, e.g. intercultural contact, reflection, adaptation stress, self-shock, disintegration, acculturation, learning, increased cultural and intercultural awareness, development of intercultural communication competence, and personal growth.

The focus of my research will be on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of them, and its goal is to explore the factors that contribute to the nurturing and maintenance of multicultural identity in the respondents’ experience as long-term transcultural sojourners. Reviewing the literature will be done iteratively at several stages of the research as a way to link the interviewees’ experience with existing scholarly work.


Bryman suggests that a narrative review is better suited for this kind of interpretative qualitative research (p. 94). In consideration of the design of my research, a narrative review will serve much better than a systematic review. Using a narrative review format will facilitate a critical approach to the very large body of literature available on the topic and at the same time it will allow me to approach my research without imposing existing categories on my findings. I will be able to use the literature narrative review to inform my research without it clouding the phenomenological nature of the interviews.


I have decided to do a narrative literature review, as I believe that the role of my literature review is to inform my inquiry by providing me with valuable information on relevant issues, and help me generate understanding through a process of discovery. In adherence to the phenomenological, hermeneutic research design adopted for my thesis, I won’t superimpose the literature review on the data/findings. This means that an effective literature review can only be outlined at a later stage, so that it will assist at the stage of data analysis and interpretation. To begin with an already structured literature review could unduly burden my approach to both data collection (the interviews questions) and analysis.

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