Intuition and the Dialogic Presentation of Self: When Intuition Fails and Self-Presentations are Fractured
Keywords:culture order, fractured reflections, language intuitions, language and identity, research interviews
Our everyday language use is mostly intuitive (Lieberman, 2000), in the sense of tacit and automatic, and it reveals ourselves in what we say and how we say it. In this study I use the interaction order—the idea that social facts such as identity are constituted by social interaction—to interpret a research interview that was threatened by my assumptions. My assumptions were aligned with the culture order of the New Zealand, in which the dominant English-origin culture assumes its ways of being as ordinary or neutral, while the minority Māori culture must, in effect, become bicultural. Early in the interview, my assumptions fractured the participant’s presentation of his identity. The participant, Nik, was one of eleven volunteers for follow-up interviews to a larger survey study about language attitudes and practices in New Zealand. Using interactional sociolinguistics, I show how our interactions during the interview exemplified the dialectic between two intuitions about language use: our moral commitment to successful interaction and our everyday reliance on normative interactional structures. As Nik introduced and elaborated on his Māori heritage, mutual misunderstandings developed during which I fractured his reflection of his identity, which we had to negotiate in order that the interview continue. As the interview ended, Nik took the floor to tell a short story in which he overcame my fractured reflection of his self by presenting how he was accepted by Māori. The narrative not only enabled me to better recognize who he was, but also enabled me to recognize how his narrative transcended the dialectical tension between interactional aims and normative structures in interaction.
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