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Is everyone Irish on St Patrick's Day? Divergent expectations and experiences of collective self-objectification at a multicultural parade



We examine experiences of collective self-objectification (CSO) (or its failure) among participants in a ‘multicultural’ St Patrick's Day parade. A two-stage interview study was carried out in which 10 parade participants (five each from ethnic majority and minority groups) were interviewed before and after the event. In pre-event interviews, all participants understood the parade as an opportunity to enact social identities, but differed in the category definitions and relations they saw as relevant. Members of the white Irish majority saw the event as being primarily about representing Ireland in a positive, progressive, light, whereas members of minority groups saw it as an opportunity to have their groups' identities and belonging in Ireland recognized by others. Post-event interviews revealed that, for the former group, the event succeeded in giving expression to their relevant category definitions. The latter group, on the other hand, cited features of the event such as inauthentic costume design and a segregated structure as reasons for why the event did not provide the group recognition they sought. The accounts revealed a variety of empowering and disempowering experiences corresponding to the extent of enactment. We consider the implications in terms of CSO, the performative nature of dual identities, as well as the notion of multicultural recognition.