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Breaking ‘The Man Code’: The motivations and experiences of men working as British Sign Language Interpreters
in the United Kingdom

MICHAELS, PAUL,ANTHONY (2023) Breaking ‘The Man Code’: The motivations and experiences of men working as British Sign Language Interpreters
in the United Kingdom.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Research on British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreting has emerged from the wider field of interpreting and translation studies and deaf studies. Early attention to linguistic aspects of interpreting has been followed by research exploring psychological, sociological, and cultural issues in interpreting, with recent attention being drawn to the gendered nature of the interpreting profession. This study of men in the predominantly female profession of BSL interpreting draws on the sociology of work and the sociology of gender to explore the motivations of men to join the profession and their experiences of working as interpreters. It builds on evidence and argument about the experiences of men who work in predominantly female professions as well as recent studies of gender-based motivations of men, and women, to become interpreters of spoken languages. Data were collected through 25 semi-structured interviews with men registered as BSL interpreters, complemented by a Facebook focus group with a further 13 registered interpreters. Analysis of the data revealed interesting insights into initial exposure to sign language, as well as intrinsic and extrinsic factors influencing decisions to become interpreters. Chiming with literature on men in predominantly female professions, the most prominent experiences related to i) gender preferences for co-working, ii) perceptions of, and ease with, sign language interpreting as a caring as well as a technical (in this case linguistic) profession, iii) pay, and iv) sexuality and stereotyping. While there were similar findings with studies of men in other predominantly female professions such as the inclusivity for LGBTQIA+ people, there were some notable contrasts including the greater number of freelance interpreters thereby challenging career acceleration and remuneration norms found in other predominantly female professions, as well as the significant connection to the deaf community which shapes the work of an interpreter. This study contributes new insights and understandings to this field of study within the sociology of work, interpreting studies and deaf studies. The thesis concludes by making recommendations for: i) sign language interpreting policy and practice to embrace the linguistic and cultural needs of deaf people and ii) future research on further aspects of sign language interpreting.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:British Sign Language interpreting; sociology of gender and work; deaf studies, interpreting studies; predominantly female profession
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Sociology, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 Oct 2023 14:04

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