The way people talk, dress or behave are types of social codes, important ways of displaying who we are; in other words, they indicate our social identity. Each individual wants to build (him)herself a certain identity. There are multiple identities – some of them are wanted, while some others are unwanted – and a speaker faces a dilemma to choose the best identity for a certain situation and this “browsing” of identities may be achieved through dialogue. In approaching the topic of this workshop, we start from the premise that humans are dialogic beings, users and learners of language in various contexts. While acting and reacting in ever-changing environments (interpersonal or institutional), people try “to achieve more or less effectively certain purposes in dialogic interaction” (Weigand 2008: 3).
The academic interest for social relationships and the way they are organized in dialogues can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century, once Malinowski first suggested in 1923 that humans share “phatic communion”. Scholars in interpersonal communication, social psychology and sociology have ever since highlighted that the concept of ‘identity’ is important for studying the organization of social life. (more…)