Positioning Theory in Applied Linguistics
eBook - ePub

Positioning Theory in Applied Linguistics

Research Design and Applications

Hayriye Kayı-Aydar

Share book
  1. English
  2. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  3. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Positioning Theory in Applied Linguistics

Research Design and Applications

Hayriye Kayı-Aydar

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

This book is about Positioning Theory (Davies & Harré, 1990) and its potential applications in bilingual and multilingual contexts involving teachers, learners, speakers, and users of a second/foreign or additional language. By using Positioning Theory as a theoretical lens and analytical approach, the author illustrates how various social and poststructural concepts in applied linguistics and language teacher education, including identity, agency, language socialization, classroom participation, and intercultural communication, can be investigated and better understood. The book adds a new perspective to the growing body of multidisciplinary literature in the areas of L2 teacher education and classroom learning, and includes step-by-step guidelines for positioning analysis, insights and implications for classroom practice, as well as suggested directions for future research. It will be of particular interest to language teachers and teacher educators, as well as students and scholarsof applied linguistics more broadly.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Positioning Theory in Applied Linguistics an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Positioning Theory in Applied Linguistics by Hayriye Kayı-Aydar in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Langues et linguistique & Linguistique. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.


© The Author(s) 2019
Hayriye Kayı-AydarPositioning Theory in Applied Linguisticshttps://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-97337-1_1
Begin Abstract

1. Positioning Theory

Hayriye Kayı-Aydar1
Department of English, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
Hayriye Kayı-Aydar
End Abstract
Positioning theory (e.g., Davies & Harré, 1990, 1999) studies the rights, duties, and obligations distributed among interlocutors or characters in and through conversations or narratives. The aim is to understand how those rights, duties, and obligations shape social structures while being shaped by them. The focus is on the social action, resisting the idea that “social behavior is a response to a social stimulus” (Harré, Moghaddam, Cairnie, Rothbart, & Sabat, 2009, p. 5). Rather than causation or hypotheses to interpret the meanings associated with social action, the theory capitalizes on what people are doing and saying in momentary conversational exchanges. As the theory focuses on the moment to explain the actions in a moral landscape, it takes in beliefs and practices as well as historical and social dimensions. This, according to Harré et al. (2009), is an important contribution of the theory to the cognitive psychology that neglected an important “dimension to the processes of cognition – namely concepts and principles from the local moral domain” (p. 6). Therefore, positioning theory is an effective tool to understand the complex interaction between psychological processes and social encounters within a moral landscape (Harré et al., 2009).
The theory is multidisciplinary, as it draws from cultural/discursive psychology,1 feminism, and poststructuralism, 2 aiming to understand how individuals gain or negotiate access to rights and duties to perform particular kinds of meaningful actions in a social episode, which can be a conversation or social gathering (Harré, 2012). Harré and Slocum (2003) argue that there are three categories of actions: “Those one has done, is doing, or will do; those which one is permitted, allowed or encouraged to do; and those which one is physically and temperamentally capable of doing” (p. 125). They further state that “positioning theory is concerned with the relations between these three domains. The focus, however, is on the relation between what one has or believes one has or lacks a right to perform and what one does, in the light of that belief” (p. 125). Harré (2012) argues that, in many cases, “the rights and duties determine who can use a certain discourse mode – for example, issuing orders, giving grades, remembering a past event” (p. 4). An essential goal of the theory is, therefore, to highlight practices that inhibit certain groups of individuals from saying certain things or performing certain sorts of acts or actions in discursive practices (Harré, 2012). The theory aims to accomplish this goal through a study of positions created in story lines as well as the social force of what is being said and done.
Positioning theory was developed in the 1990s by Rom Harré. Harré and his colleagues (e.g., Davies & Harré, 1990, 1999; Harré, 2012; Harré et al., 2009; Harré & Van Langenhove, 1991; Harré & Van Langenhove, 1999a; Moghaddam, Harré, & Lee, 2007) advanced the theory since then. Other influential scholars, including Bamberg (1997), Deppermann (2015), Holland, Skinner, Lachicotte, and Cain (1998), and Wortham (2000), have also written extensively on the concept of positioning and/or positioning theory, critiquing, expanding, and deepening our understanding of the theory or certain elements of it. I present the current debates about the theory in great detail in Chapter 7.
Positioning theory has received considerable attention in a wide variety of disciplines. The application of the theory to various types of studies has resulted in new conceptualizations and understandings about some of its concepts. In the rest of this chapter, I first provide a short overview of the historical development of the theory. I then elaborate on the complex nature of the interaction among positioning, story lines, and rights and duties. I also would like to note that, throughout this book, I primarily review and rely on the principles of positioning theory promoted by Rom Harré and his colleagues for two main reasons. First, as I have stated, Harré and his colleagues are widely regarded as the primary scholars advancing the theory. Second, in the fields of applied linguistics and education, nearly all of the positioning studies I have read have been built or focused on the work by Harré and his colleagues (see Kayi-Aydar & Miller, 2018 for an extensive review). Given the strong influence of the work by Harré and his colleagues, I reference their work often throughout the book.

Positioning Triangle

Positioning theory offers a triangle, which consists of positions, story lines, and act interpretations, as an analytic framework. Those three mutually determine, influence, and shape one another in the unfolding social episodes (Harré, 2012). Harré further explains that “if any one changes – for example, by a successful challenge to the distribution of rights and duties, then all three change” (p. 6). Since positioning theory is partly built on John Langshaw (“J. L.”) Austin’s speech act theory (1962), speech acts and actions are considered to be an important component of the positioning triangle. Harré (2012) defines an action as “a meaningful, intended performance (speech or gesture)” and an act as “the social meaning of an action” (Harré, 2012, p. 8).3 In an effort to advance positioning theory, Herbel-Eisenmann, Wagner, Johnson, Suh, and Figueras (2015) propose replacing “speech acts” with “communication acts”:
Later work suggested that paralinguistic aspects of contributions like gestures (Harré, 2012) and physical positions and stances (Moghaddam, Harré, & Lee, 2008) also contribute to the interpretations of the speech action. Thus, we have begun to refer to these as communication acts to recognize that social force can be determined by more than just speech. (p. 187)
This is a meaningful suggestion that I support given the increasing number of studies that use paralinguistic elements along with physical positions in explaining positioning in story lines. Pinnow and Chval (2015) state that multimodal analysis, which “incorporates discourse and conversation analysis in order to examine linguistic utterances and draws upon research in multimodal communication” (Pinnow & Chval, 2015, p. 5), provides important insights into how semiotic resources are employed by individuals as they engage in positioning acts. In the next section, I explain the notions of positions, positioning, and story lines.

Positions and Positioning

Davies and Harré (1999) drew on Hollway (as quoted in Davies & Harré, 1999), who used the term position in his work on gender, to refer to presentations of self in communicative events. Davies and Harré (1999) define a position as
a complex cluster of generic personal attributes, structured in various ways, which impinges on the possibilities of interpersonal, intergroup, and even intrapersonal action through some assignment of such rights, duties and obligations to an individual as are sustained by the cluster. (p. 1)
According to Harré et al. (2009), “position s are features of the local moral landscape,” which “consists of practices” (p. 9). These practices, “habitual ways of speaking and interacting” (Deppermann, 2015, p. 370), vary widely; examples might include criticizing someone, assigning someone a task, giving a grade, and so on. Harré et al. (2009) suggest that “we, as analysts, extract from these practices something we call a ‘position’ which someone seems to ‘occupy’” (p. 9). A position may reflect social status, moral or personal attributes, characteristics or abiliti...

Table of contents