“They’re Different From Who I Am”: Making Relevant Identities in the Middle Through Talk-in-Interaction

  • Tim Mossman


This qualitative study builds on earlier research on language and identity by focusing on how Canadian Generation 1.5 university students enact their identities through talk-in-interaction. Drawing on (applied) Conversational Analysis (CA) to analyze critically the production and management of social institutions in talkin-interaction in tandem with Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA) to examine the cultural resources individuals draw on to describe, identify, or make reference to other people and themselves, I undertake a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of data from semistructured interviews with four Generation 1.5 students conducted in a large, public, English-medium university in British Columbia. Rather than approaching the interview as a neutral technology that seeks to discover “truths,” I theorize the interviews as meaning-making ventures in themselves, adopting a reflexive orientation that recognizes that data are situated representations co-constructed through interaction with the interviewer. The study reports on how these students, in response to the interactionally occasioned constraints “inhabiting” our talk, produced identities that aligned with select “scholarly representations” from the applied linguistics literature that casts Generation 1.5 students in the middle. The study reveals how identity, power, and social issues are produced and managed in talk-in-interaction and how insights from M/CA might address matters of social justice in educational contexts.
How to Cite
Mossman, T. (2012). “They’re Different From Who I Am”: Making Relevant Identities in the Middle Through Talk-in-Interaction. TESL Canada Journal, 29, 103. https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v29i0.1112