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Researching Identity and L2 Pragmatics in Digital Stories: A Relational Account

Issue: Vol 37 No. 1 (2020)

Journal: CALICO Journal

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/cj.38777


This study explores college EFL learners' construction of identity through the analysis of their pragmatic choices in digital stories, in which they narrated their relationship with another person they had helped in the past. More specifically, such choices were examined following Relational Dialectics Theory in learners' enactments of "connection" with and "autonomy" from this person. A specific view of identity in language education, the notion of "relational work" in (im)politeness research, and a social semiotic framework were also employed in data analysis. Learners' pragmatic choices ranged from the selection of the topic of their narratives according to types of social bonds, to the use of specific semiotic resources to build identities in conflict episodes of their stories (i.e., positive identities for themselves and positive and negative identities for their relational partners). The construction of these identities paralleled relational parties' convergent and divergent moves towards connection and autonomy, revealing their relational work. Learners used different semiotic resources in resolution episodes, which enabled them to craft positive identities for themselves as experts, teachers, and learners as well as position their relational partner as a competent agent and shape the connection-autonomy dialectic as "superiority-equality".

Author: María Dolores García-Pastor

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