Gendered discursive construction of bank manager positions: conflicting social identities
By Inger Lassen, Department of Language and Culture, Aalborg University
Human beings are notorious categorizers with a predilection for defining, labelling and evaluating. By referring to categories like for instance sex, age, religion and occupation, we construct social roles for ourselves and for our fellow human beings; we thereby develop identities that give us a sense of security. However, such membership categorization at the same time functions as a system of social control (Sacks and Jefferson 1995) as stereotyped perceptions (Schneider 2004) about who we are (our identities) and what we can do (our actions) constrain our range of freedom. This chapter subscribes to the social constructionist view that identities are discursively constructed and negotiated in social practice; it follows that identities are flexible and that subject positions may change in the course of a communicative event. This will be illustrated on the basis of two sets of data obtained from focus group interviews. In the first set of data, female employees in a Danish bank, SparNord, discuss their prospects of obtaining management positions in the bank. In the second set of data the same issue is discussed by their male colleagues. My analysis will explore how identities are constructed, and how social roles are stereotyped and evaluated (Martin and White 2005) by two focus groups; in this process I shall pay particular attention to membership categories and focal themes such as uncertainty and confidence (Roberts and Sarangi 2005).
Martin, J. and White, P.R.R. (2005): The Language of Evaluation. Appraisal in English. London and New York: Palgrave.
Roberts, C & Sarangi, S. (2005): Theme-oriented discourse analysis of medical envounters. Medical Education. Blackwell.
Sacks, H. and Jefferson, G. (1995): Lectures on conversation. Oxford: Blackwell.
Schneider, D.J. (2004): The psychology of stereotyping. New York. Guilford Press.
Abstract submitted for invited book chapter - Jan Renkema, Tilburg (Benjamins) Working title: Discourse og Course
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