social networking and critical ethnography

How to Cite



This paper explores the identity construction of ethnic minority (EM) interpreters in Hong Kong and the way cultural differences are incorporated into interpreting in legal settings. The linkage between the two key themes under this study is intertwined by a proposition that an EM interpreter is able to identify cultural differences at work because of his/her close affiliation with the culture, language and ethnicity. In examining the formation of EM interpreters’ professional identities, the intricate interplay of the interpreters’ perceptions, knowledge, native values and beliefs on the one hand and institutional mechanisms/mainstream practice on the other, will be studied. Based on the theoretical framework of Jenkins’ internal-external dialectic of identification developed in Social Identity (2004) and Rethinking Ethnicity (2008), I will integrate Neuliep’s (2009) contextual approach of intercultural communication to examine the integration of cultural differences in interpreters’ interpretation. The research methods primarily used in this project are Milroy’s (1987, 2003) approach of social networking and critical ethnography (Madison 2005). Social networking has been used as an overarching theme in navigating contacts for collecting data and analysing the network dynamics that influence interpreting practice. Likewise, critical ethnography has been used as a tool to investigate how different power structures impact legal interpreting practice. Need for proper assessment, accreditation, professional development opportunities and the code of ethics have emerged as overlapping topics in the process of data collection. As interpreting practice in EM languages in Hong Kong is still relatively unexplored, the project aims at providing viable recommendations to the development of the interpreting profession in legal settings, in particular in Hong Kong.


Angelelli, Claudia V. 2004. Revisiting the Interpreter’s Role. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Berk-Seligson, Susan. 1990. The Bilingual Courtroom: Court Interpreters in the Judicial Process. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Barth, Fredrik. ed. 1969. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Barnes, John Arundel.1954. Class and Committees in a Norwegian island parish. Human Relations 7: 39–58.

Barnes, John Arundel.1972. Social network. Addison-Wesley Module in Anthropology 26: 1–29.

Barnett, George A. 2011. Encyclopedia of Social Networks. California: Sage.

Browne, Katherine. 2005. Snowball sampling: using social networks to research non‐heterosexual women. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8 (1): 47–60.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burke, Peter J., and Jan E. Stets. 2009. Identity Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Corsellis, Ann. 2008. Public Service Interpreting: The First steps. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cronin, Michael. 2002. The empire talks back: orality, heteronomy and the cultural turn in Interpreting Studies. In The Interpreting Studies Reader. Ed. Franz Pöchhacker, and Miriam Shlesinger, 386–397. New York: Routledge.

Elliot, Anthony. ed. 2011. Routledge Handbook of Identity Studies. New York: Routledge.

Erni, John Nguyet, and Lisa Yuk-ming Leung. 2014. Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Gillian, Bickley. ed. 2009. A Magistrate’s Court in Nineteenth Century Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Proverse.

Giddens, Anthony. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. UK: Polity Press.

Goffman, Erving. 1972. Interactional Ritual. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Goffman, Erving. 1984. The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life. London: Pelican.

Hale, Sandra Beatriz. 2007. Community Interpreting. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Herbert, Jean. 1952. The Interpreter’s Handbook: How to Become a Conference Interpreter. Geneva: Georg.

Jenkins, Richard. 2nded. 2004.Social Identity: Key Ideas. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, Richard. 2nded. 2008. Rethinking Ethnicity. London: Sage Publications.

Lee, Jieun. 2009. Conflicting views on court interpreting examined through surveys of legal professionals and court interpreters. Interpreting 11 (1): 35–56.

Leung, Ester S. M. and John Gibbons. 2007. Purposes, roles and beliefs in the hostile questioning of vulnerable witnesses. In The language of sexual crime, ed. Janet Cotterill, 139–158. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Madison, Deidra Soyini. 2005. Critical ethnography: method, ethics, and performance. California: Sage.

Metzger, Melanie. 1999. Sign Language Interpreting: Deconstructing the Myth of Neutrality. Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Morris, Ruth. 1995. The Moral Dilemma of Court Interpreting. The Translator 1 (1): 25–46.

Milroy, Lesley. 2nd ed. 1987. Language and Social Networks. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd.

Milroy, Lesley, and Matthew Gordon. 2003. Sociolinguistics Methods and Interpretation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Neuliep, James W. 5th ed. 2009. Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. California: SAGE publications.

Ng, Eva. 2013. Who is speaking? Interpreting the voice of the speaking in court. In The Critical Link 6: Interpreting in a Changing Landscape, ed. Christina Schäffner, Krzysztof Kredens and Yvonne Fowler. 249–266. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Plüss, Caroline. 2005.Migrants from India and Their Relations with British and Chinese Residents. In Foreign Communities in Hong Kong, 1840s-1950s. Ed. Cindy Y. Chu, 155–170. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ra, Sophia. 2013. Community interpreting: Asian language interpreters’ perspectives. Translation & Interpreting 5 (2): 45–61.

Roy, Cynthia.B. 1993. The problem with definitions, descriptions, and the role metaphors of interpreters. In The Interpreting Studies Reader. Ed. F. Pöchhacker and M. Shlesinger, 344–353. London: Routledge.

Spencer, Stephen. 2006. Race and Ethnicity: Culture, Identity and Representation. London: Routledge.

Song, Miri. 2003. Choosing Ethnic Identity. UK: Polity Press and Blackwell Publishing.

Schwarzbaum, Sara E., and Thomas, Anita Jones. 2nd ed. 2011. Culture and Identity: Life Stories for Counselors and Therapists. London: SAGE Publications.

Tallentire, Garry. 2009. The Hong Kong (Police) Magistrate in the 1880s and 1990s: A Flavour of the Times. In A Magistrate’s Court in Nineteenth Century Hong Kong: Court in Time, ed. Gillian Bickley, 133–143. Hong Kong: Proverse Hong Kong.

Taylor, Gary, and Steve Spencer. ed. 2004. Social Identities: Multidisciplinary Approaches. London: Routledge.

Tate, Granville, and Graham H. Turner. 1997. The code and the culture: sign language interpreting- in search of the new breed’s ethics. In The Interpreting Studies Reader. Ed. F. Pöchhacker and Miriam Shlesinger, 372–383. New York: Routledge.

Wadenjsö, Cecilia. 1998. Interpreting as Interaction. London and New York: Longman.

Wellman, Barry and Stephen D. Berkowitz. ed. 1988. Social structures: a network approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Woodward, Kath, ed. 2000. Questioning Identity: gender, class, and nation. London: Routledge.

Yin, Robert K. 2014. Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.