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Multimodal psychological research highlights the benefit of using complementary approaches to the phenomenological study of lived experience. Rather than focus on any individual method, this study attempts to concentrate on the transition, or hyphen, between them, as a place for reflexivity, ethics, and theory. Participants were 14 adults, recruited from ‘New York Community College’ and ‘New Jersey Community College’ in the U.S., who engaged in focus groups where they completed two activities: drawing a map of their personal journey to the college or of their self-identity, and their definitions for the immigration-related terms illegal and undocumented. Results demonstrated that journey and identity maps contained obstructive and supportive elements, and that the definitions reflected differential cognitive and emotional elements. However, focusing on the transition between these two activities revealed that whereas most participants viewed illegal and undocumented as different, participants who noted many more obstacles reported that the terms had both different but also similar qualities. Implications are discussed with a pivot towards the psychological link between methods as a generative space for future theoretical and conceptual work.


This work was originally published in Qualitative Research in Psychology, available at



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