Analysis and the Exploration
of Social Identity in Classroom
Language and Literacy Events
In this chapter we use a microethnographic approach to discourse analysis to illuminate issues of social identity in classroom language and literacy events. Social identity has many meanings. Traditionally, social identity has been used to refer to the social group to which an individuabelongs, such as an ethnic group, gender, racial group, economic class, and so on. Within a classroom, a student's social identity might also include membership in a reading group or a friendship group. A student might have a social identity as a “top student, ” a “troublemaker, ” a “teacher's pet, ” and so on. Social identity has recently been used to describe more subtle, situated, and dynamic social relationships. Instead of fixed, predetermined, and stable, social identities (also described as social positions) are viewed as being constructed through the interactions people have with each other (sometimes referred to as social positioning) and as a consequence of the evolving social structures of social institutions.
In this chapter we focus on how microethnographic analysis can contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of social identity in and through classroom language and literacy events—that is, how microethnographic analysis can help theorize the dynamics of social identity and the relationship of social identity to classrooms and to literacy events and practices. Stated simply, we are interested in how participation in classroom language and literacy events affects “who you are” and how “who you are” affects your participation in classroom language and literacy events.