The social construction of teacher identity
: an intergenerational comparison of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot teacher narratives

  • Ozlem Dagman

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research focuses on the social construction of teacher identities of state primary school teachers in Cyprus. It is a comparative, bi-communal study based on the life stories of three generations of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot teachers in relation to historical and cultural contexts of Cyprus. State primary school teachers have been selected as the focus of the study as their education/training has been standardised and led by state-run institutions across the divide in Cyprus. The purpose of the research is to present an analysis which Cypriot teachers across the borders can relate to and learn from.

    The main areas of enquiry in this thesis are teachers’ perceptions of their professional identities and the influence of individual and collective memory on constructing those professional identities. The study employs Qualitative Research Methods, specifically Narrative Approach and Life History Methodology. Constructionist and Interpretivist epistemological positions have informed the thesis. An analytical framework has been devised using Ivor Goodson’s ‘Narrative Theory’, Berger and Luckman’s ‘Social Construction of Reality’, Vivien Burr’s Social Constuctionism, Maurice Halbwachs’ ‘Collective Memory’ and Keith Turvey’s Narrative Ecologies works.

    The participants of the study have been organised into three generational cohorts,which have been divided with reference to 1974, the division of the island, and with reference to the shifting historical periods during which they were educated. The first generational cohort was educated during the British Colonial/pre-division period while the second generational cohort received their education during the postcolonial/ division period in Cyprus. The third generational cohort received their education during the post-colonial/post division period in Cyprus.

    Analysis of the collected data is presented in two chapters. The first analysis chapter presents data that is derived from the fieldnote diaries. That data is reported in the form of twelve stories. Those stories include information concerning the historical, cultural and social contexts of Cyprus. The second analysis chapter portrays the analysis of the collected life histories according to their narrative content and in relation to the wider literature which is formed of historical policy documents of teacher education/training curricula and social, historical and political contexts of Cyprus.

    The analysis of the collected data gave way to four overarching themes: “guidelines” “generations”, “genealogy” and “gateways” (the “four Gs”). In addition to these overarching themes, notions of “memory”, “identity”, “nationality”, “other(s)”, and “borders” have also emerged from the life histories. These notions are structured as sub-themes in relation to the overarching themes in the data analysis chapter.

    The originality of the study stems from its bi-communal perspective. It is the first bicommunal study of its kind, focusing on Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot teachers’ life histories and exploring their professional identities in relation to their memories and in relation to the memories of their ancestors. The findings of the study reflect both anticipated and unexpected similarities and differences across generations and across the divide in Cyprus.
    Date of AwardSept 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorIvor Goodson (Supervisor) & Tim Rudd (Supervisor)

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