‘He’s the star!’: Positioning as a tool of analysis to investigate agency and access to learning opportunities in a classroom environment

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drawing on Positioning Theory (e.g. Davies and Harré, 1990, 1999), this chapter aims to explore the tight yet complex relationships among agency, positioning and access to learning opportunities in a language classroom. The main theoretical assumption here is that identities are constructed in the ways people position themselves and are positioned by others in and through discourse. These positional identities, shaped by storylines including one’s cultural and subjective experience, emerge naturally from social interactions and shape one’s agency by implicitly limiting or allowing certain social actions. This belief is supported by Positioning Theory, which adopts a microanalytic perspective to understand how individuals shape the discourse and are shaped by the discourse through positions that they occupy or construct for themselves. The two main objectives of this chapter are to: (1) introduce Positioning Theory as a method of analysis to explore agency; and (2) describe the analytic procedures used and demonstrate how they have been applied in one qualitative case study. In order to accomplish these goals, I will first unpack the term ‘agency’ and describe its relationships with positioning. Then I will present a case study that illustrates how Positioning Theory can be used as a conceptual and methodological tool to understand the ‘constitutive force of social interaction in shaping our “power” to make choices’ (Miller, 2006: 121).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTheorizing and Analyzing Agency in Second Language Learning
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Approaches
PublisherChannel View Publications
Pages133-153
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781783092901
ISBN (Print)9781783092888
StatePublished - Dec 5 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences

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