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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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3.4.2 Extreme negative ethnic and racial categorization

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The analysis of the interviews in this chapter focuses on a specific kind of categorization, extreme negatively assessing acts of ethnic and racial categorization. Such categorizations are construed and negotiated in a direct, unmitigated manner. Moreover, talk participants see them as preferred actions, which indicates that these categorizations are based on a different kind of preference organization than the mitigated negatively assessing ethnic categorizations observed in the other interviews. The analysis aims at exploring the reasons why the IEs do not mitigate their negative categorizations of the IRs. I focus on the actions which enable speakers to justify extreme categorizations as legitimate and rational without breaching communication.

In most interviews in my research, negative assessments of entire ethnic collectivities are perceived as dispreferred actions and are mitigated. However, in the extracts analyzed in this chapter, extreme categorizations are realized in a direct or only slightly attenuated manner. I call them extreme ethnic and racial categorizations due to their unmitigated character. An explicitly negative categorization of an entire ethnic collectivity functions as an accusation. The IEs justify their negative assessment of the entire Polish collectivity, the IRs included, by providing reports or narratives in which they were the victims of racist actions perpetrated by Poles. The IEs narrate events in which prejudiced categorizations occurred and report social situations in which they or other foreigners became the target of prejudice. The IEs also quote other foreigners’ opinions about the Polish collectivity and instances of prejudice experienced by them....

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