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Author Numanbayraktaroglu, Sevda
Title Language, self and context: Socio-historical constitution and interactional actualization of the self through discourse genres; the case of Turkish heteroglossia
book jacket
Descript 438 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 71-10, Section: B, page: 6490
Advisers: John A. Lucy; Richard Shweder
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Chicago, 2010
With its strong ties to the issues surrounding morality, subjectivity, and consciousness, the self has been one of the most widely debated subjects in the history of the social sciences. Notwithstanding the amount of research devoted to it, a comprehensive account that grasps the social constitution and interactional emergence, as well as the psychological uniqueness and unity of the self, has still not been developed successfully. A critical appropriation of the theories of self of the last century shows two main reasons for this failure. First, the dual levels of context, namely the socio-historical and interactional contexts, and the co-constitutive relationship between them have been largely ignored. Second, studies of the self lack coherent theorizing that can adequately account for the linguistic mediation underlying the social becoming as well as contextual emergence of the self. In this work, informed by a critical re-appropriation of the previous theories of self, and by adopting the Bakhtin Circle's conception of language, I propose a reformulation of the self that incorporates into theory a heteroglossic conception of culture as a realm of multiple intersubjective evaluative orientations toward reality and discourse genres as the carriers of these orientations. I suggest that the self is a moral, ethical, aesthetic orientation towards reality that is socially constituted through the internalization of discourse genres, and gets actualized in the context of dialogic interaction through the utilization of re-accentuated discourse genres. Self as such is an organic yet open unity whose constituent moments interpenetrate each other and who gets transformed anew as novel genres are internalized. This new formulation, which finds dialogism at play at the level of society, the interactional context, and within the self, successfully accounts for the social and interactional roots of the self, as well as its unity, individuality and creativity
Conceived as such, socio-historical context and discourse genres entail important implications for the constitution of selves. These implications are especially prominent in rapidly transforming contexts, such as that of Turkey. Turkey's long history of modernization and integration into the global economy has been unquestionably the most influential factor shaping its current heteroglossia. A case in point is the differential permeation of individualism, which stands in contra-distinction to the traditional family orientation, across different social segments of the Turkish society. A survey research conducted as part of the project demonstrates that people across different socio-economic statuses, education levels, and levels of religiosity differ significantly from one another in terms of their individualism versus traditional family orientation. Indeed, this tight relationship between the Turkish socio-historical context and subjectivity is also apparent in the various ways Turkish women, as the traditional guardians of customs and family, understand themselves and make sense of their lives. In this project, I explore the heterogeneity of Turkish women's perspectives and demonstrate the impact of globalization on the Turkish subject, through a study of the polyphony of discourses of womanhood in Turkey, the impact of the modernization process in their genesis, and how these discourses shape the subjectivities of women coming from different social backgrounds. Furthermore, through a discourse analysis, I show that women from similar social backgrounds not only think alike, but also speak alike as evidenced in the similarities of their evaluative orientations as well as formal characteristics of their discourses. Taken together, these studies speak to the important role language assumes in the constitution as well as the presentation of the self in interaction
This project contributes to the studies of the self by proposing a reformulation of the self that not only accounts for its social roots and interactional actualization, but also its agency, unity, individuality, and transformation. Furthermore, with its focus on the mediating role of language, the project also addresses the question of linguistic relativity at the discursive level. Moreover, the project focuses on the Turkish subject caught in the midst of a rapidly globalizing culture. As such, it provides interesting insights into the constitution of subjectivity at the age of globalization. Finally, by developing a methodology for capturing the interdisciplinary concept of discourse genres, it adds to the field of pragmatics
School code: 0330
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 71-10B
Subject Anthropology, Cultural
Psychology, Social
Sociology, Sociolinguistics
Alt Author The University of Chicago. Psychology: Human Development
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