The Same but Different—Researching Language and Culture in the Lives of Polish People in England


  • Bogusia Temple University of Central Lancashire
  • Katarzyna Koterba University of Central Lancashire



translation, narrative, representation, culture, language, cross-cultural research


This article is concerned with issues of representation within cross language research. We examine research that suggests people may present themselves differently in different languages. Moreover, it has been argued that translators/researchers produce accounts of people's lives rather than just describe them within their translations. These representational moves by both research participants and researchers across languages have consequences for research findings. We illustrate our arguments in relation to research with Polish speakers in Greater Manchester, England and argue for issues of interpretation and translation within narrative research to move out of methodological notes to become central concerns within research processes. We argue particularly against the treatment of language as an undifferentiated medium and the view that anyone who can speak a language can unproblematically represent all speakers of that language. All languages are internally differentiated and who translates influences the findings. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901319


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Author Biographies

Bogusia Temple, University of Central Lancashire

Professor Bogusia TEMPLE is Professor of Health and Social Care Research at the University of Central Lancashire. She has an interest in research methodology, particularly around issues to do with research that involves the use of more than one language. She has published extensively in this field, including a recent book about research with refugees: Doing Research with Refugees, Policy Press 2006. She has been doing research with Polish people for 20 years.

Katarzyna Koterba, University of Central Lancashire

Katarzyna KOTERBA received her M.A. degree in Modern Languages from the University of Silesia. Her academic interest particularly lies in the area of sociolinguistics and specifically the correlation between language and gender and language and national identity, along with research with minority ethnic communities generally. Most recently, she worked on the ESRC funded project about Polish people in Greater Manchester: "Language and identity in narratives of Polish people" which is the subject of this article.




How to Cite

Temple, B., & Koterba, K. (2009). The Same but Different—Researching Language and Culture in the Lives of Polish People in England. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(1).



Researching Special Themes, Phenomena, and Contexts with Qualitative Approaches