The central focus of the book is the identification of the ways people engage in communicative encounters to (re)constitute personal and social identities. Its aim is to identify some principal themes that have emerged from the ample research on identity in a variety of contexts. A common thread of the articles is the role of language in the construction and performance of identities. It embraces an exploration of the sociocultural environments in which human communication takes place, the interplay between these environments, and the construction and display of identities through our communicative performances. Research located in a range of literary, sociological, psychological and linguistic perspectives is used to illustrate the potential of communication in establishing a sense of identity.
Intersectional identities in interpersonal communication
Abstract Dominant theories of identity in the social sciences appear ill-equipped to take into account the fact that individuals may simultaneously refer to multiple identities in seeking to relate to/make sense of one another during interpersonal interactions. This chapter reviews the ways in which (i) Social Identity Theory, (ii) Identity Theory and (iii) Intersectionality can be applied to analysing such situations, the aspects foregrounded by each respective theoretical framework, and the perceived limits of each. It then argues the case for situating analyses on the level of “identity traits” (behaviours attributable to a particular identity or identities), rather than of identities, in order to bypass a certain number of conceptual limitations and cast light upon the ways in which individuals may seek to privilege not only accountability (Garfinkel 1967) but also coherency between intersecting identities during an interpersonal encounter.
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