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Committee chair as a jointly constructed identity at Chinese PhD dissertation defences

Issue: Vol 5 No. 1 (2020)

Journal: East Asian Pragmatics

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DOI: 10.1558/eap.40107


This study aims to investigate how the identity of committee chair is constructed in academic interaction based on data from seven Chinese PhD dissertation defences. The analysis of the data shows that, while the identity of committee chair is mainly constructed by the chairs themselves, it is also constituted by the organisers of the events, PhD candidates, and other committee members in the dissertation defence interaction. Thus, the construction of the committee chair identity is the result of the joint work done by various parties at different moments of the academic event, and the chair identity is an interactional achievement. The complexity of the identity construction reflects the participants’ fulfilment of their own rights and obligations in the academic community of practice and the achievement of specific communicative goals in a given context. It is hoped that this study can shed some light on the understanding of identity construction at PhD dissertation defences in the Chinese context and the investigation into identity construction from an interactional perspective.

Author: Yuxin Ren

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