This chapter presents and illustrates the theoretical and methodological frameworks of a discourse-oriented approach to the study of self-construction in computer-mediated discourse (CMD). It is argued that this approach is suitable for the study of CMD, when the major traces of self are imprinted in discourse – language used in a specific context. Espousing functionalist approaches to discourse analysis which view language resources as the building blocks of human communication the approach foregrounds the process of discursive positioning – a central theoretical construct and a methodological principle. It also shows how micro- and macro-levels of analysis can be integrated in the exploration of self-construction in CMD.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Micro- and macro analyses: A close examination of discourse in order to highlight explicit and implicit features of the interaction. Macro-discourse analysis views discourse as an abstract entity that should be defined but which does not necessarily require a close examination of actual texts.
Global coherence: The central theme of the text that is accomplished via the interlocutors’ interactional process of interpretation.
Positioning resources: Self-displaying language devices such as repetition, use of syntactic structures and figurative language that interlocutors use to locate themselves in discourse.
Discursive positioning: A theoretical construct and a heuristic procedure. Theoretically, it is defined as a process during which interlocurters locate themselves in relation to others in ongoing conversation. As a heuristic procedure, it enables the researcher to divide the text into several levels or worlds that are related to theory in an interpretive interface.
Interpretive interface: An integrative level of analysis in which the researcher interprets or clarifies the meaning of the text by relating to micro- and macro-discourse analyses.
Discourse and Text: Discourse is defined as language used in social, cultural and historical contexts. Text is defined as any discourse that is fixed by writing.
Self-construction: Self-construction is often accomplished in the stories humans narrate. The term is ambiguous since it refers to narrators’ construction of self in various settings via different positioning resources. It also refers to the researcher’s interpretation of the narrators’ production of self.
Functionalist approaches: These approaches advocate micro-analytic study of language. They share the tenet that language resources constitute the building-blocks of interpersonal social communication, self-construction and learning processes.
Discourse Analysis: Discourse analysis can be micro-, or macro-analytic. Current scholarship calls for the construction of an interpretive interface between micro-and macro-levels of analysis.
Context: non-linguistic resources such as time, location and prior knowledge that interlocutors employ in the process of meaning-making or interpretation.