The discursive negotiation of adolescents' identities

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Contemporary psychological models of a person's identity draw upon the Western conception of a person who is an autonomous, self­bounded individual, a center of multiple inputs, able to master and control her or his environment. Identity has been reified into an entity that could be mapped out and neatly categorized into hierarchical invariant stages. The approach adopted in the present research rejected this realist and essentialist view of identity, and instead, conceptualized identity as discursively produced and actively negotiated by speakers in everyday conversations. To understand the ways in which identity might be constructed, maintained or resisted in everyday talk, the project examined the discursive practices in which speakers engaged. The project involved seven focus groups of young women and men ranging in age from 18 to 23. Each focus group consisted of two to four people in a group. There were in total twenty participants (twelve women and eight men). They were high school and university students and were both heterosexual and homosexual. The project illustrates the discursive analyses of the actual audiotaped discussions that emerged during the sessions. The most common discourses in which the young people located themselves were: love and sex discourse, relationships, family and career and being gay or being straight. Discursive analyses of the speakers' talk showed how people negotiated their selves with others. Their self-constructions were organized strategically in the situated contexts at hand. These constructions were multiple and varied depending on the rhetorical context and function of talk. People variously drew on contradictory themes in order to make themselves socially accountable to the researcher and their peers. The project also addressed the social, moral and political implications of the discursive turn to identity.
Bibliography: p. 108-112.
Galperyn, K. H. (1995). The discursive negotiation of adolescents' identities (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/17758