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Ethnic Categorization in Interviews in English as a Lingua Franca

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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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1. Combining ethnomethodology and conversation analysis: Towards macro context

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The common denominator of the majority of phenomenological interaction studies is their interest in face-to-face encounters and an anti-deterministic and constructivist perception of social-context. Phenomenological research contributed significantly to our understanding of social order as a situated accomplishment of talk participants. Avoiding theoretical assumptions about communication, phenomenological studies managed to determine how speakers create meaning and reach intersubjective comprehension of social norms in face-to-face interactions. EM and CA share a common phenomenological origin and interest in the talk participants’ understanding of social norms. They differ, however, in their attitude towards macro-social context. Even though CA finds its origins in EM, their analytical aims and concepts have not always overlapped. Both EM and CA aim to view social order in the situated practice of interaction. CA, though, limits itself to the analysis of interactional mechanisms and focuses on conversation treated as the most significant form of social interaction. EM, on the other hand, analyzes more kinds of social interaction and holds a more comprehensive view of social order. EM and especially its branch MCA deals with such aspects of macro context as membership in social groups and collectivities and the social members’ understanding of identity categories.

I discuss the similarities and differences between such principal concepts in EM and CA as reflexivity or indexicality and intersubjectivity. It may be hoped that redefining CA and EM observation criteria and proposing new criteria which integrate the micro and macro context could contribute to a better understanding of communication. I...

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