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Ethnic Categorization in Interviews in English as a Lingua Franca


Agnieszka Nowicka

The book looks into the in situ organization of ethnic and racial categorization in interviews in English as a lingua franca. It proposes the combined ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approach. The author shows that the negotiation of ethnic identity categories concerns stereotypes and evaluations included in ethnic categorization. She establishes that the ways of negotiating ethnic identity categories are largely systematic, which indicates that talk participants share the norms of construing ethnic identity categories and recognize preferred and dispreferred categorization. The book reveals that ambiguous categorial references are a special challenge for talk participants. Social types and groups are used not only to create but also to avoid prejudiced ethnic categorization.

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The methodology in my study is based on the combined ethnomethodological and conversation analytic approach. The uniqueness of the phenomenological perspective lies in its emphasis on the talk participant’s orientation to social norms without being determined by them. The phenomenological approach is especially useful in exploring the talk participant’s orientation to the shared norms of social order in IC in ELF. This new angle in IC and ELF studies allows us to focus less on communication problems and more on how talk participants reach mutual comprehension despite possible intercultural differences. I focused especially on macro context and the norms of construing ethnic identity categories in IC in ELF, which are an essential if not the most significant determinant of IC. Combining EM and CA was a necessary step in devising the criteria of observing the in situ organization of ethnic categorization. EM and its branch MCA see the validity of macro context and social identity categories in interaction, yet they continue to struggle with determining their relevance. CA perspective criticizes EM and MCA studies on macro context and especially on membership categorization for their insufficient focus on the sequential context. Moreover, CA claims that these studies do not demonstrate the conditional relevance of macro context and identity categories in interaction. This criticism is perhaps too far-fetched because many studies on social categorization manage to analyze social identity categories as valid for the construction of meaning in talk (cf. Stokoe and Edwards 2006; Stokoe 2012). I argued that CA...

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