Situating Selves: The Communication of Social Identities in American Scenes

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SUNY Press, 1996 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 238 pages
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Theories of identity have been built largely on biological, psychological, sociological, and anthropological grounds. Missing from each of these, yet of potential relevance to them all, is a community theory of identity such as the one developed here. Situating Selves presents studies of five American scenes, focusing on the ways social identities are communicatively crafted. Based on fifteen years of fieldwork, the book presents fine-grained analyses of the playful self during sporting events (with special attention given to crowd activities at college basketball games), the working self in a television company, the marital self in weddings and marriages, the gendered self in television "talk shows," and conflicted selves during a community's hotly contested land-use controversy.
Carbaugh shows how listening to communication in cultural scenes like these can help reveal how deeply identity is situated in various communicative practices. These include a ritual of play, symbolic allusions to different classes of people, a diversity in the forms of names used upon marriage, the play between genders and gender-neutral language, and the relationship among language, nature, community, and politics. Concluding commentary links the studies to the contemporary American scene, and shows how the focus on communication can integrate into community living both shared and separate identities. Emerging from these studies is a view of communication as not only a situated expression of selves in American scenes, but also an active contributor in constituting those very identities and scenes.

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A Scene of Scholarly Conversation
Social Identities as Communication
Making Television
Cultural Agents Social Identities
A Communitys LandUse Controversy
In Search of Common
Social Identities American Community

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About the author (1996)

Donal Carbaugh is Professor of Communication and Faculty Affiliate in American Indian Studies, American Studies, and Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Talking American and editor of Cultural Communication and Intercultural Contact.

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