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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

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Volume 2016, Issue 241


“Out gay boys? There’s, like, one point seven five”: Negotiating identity in super-diversity

Susan Woolley
Published Online: 2016-08-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2016-0022


Examining processes through which identity and semiotic markers of race, gender, and sexuality are constructed, this article looks at the ways categories like “gay”, “Asian”, and “Latino”, for example, are articulated, counted, and delineated as well as complicated by intersecting lines of difference that entangle subject positions. Drawing on findings from a three-year ethnographic study in a Northern California urban public high school, this research connects the micro-level processes of language and the macro-level processes through which difference is constructed. Arguing that notions of enoughness and authenticity are used to assess participants’ claims to identities, this article further pushes scholars of super-diversity to consider the role of power and privilege in shaping such forms of legitimacy. Focusing on power and privilege in the negotiation of identity is significant for scholars of super-diversity because it moves us toward an analysis of the ways unequal power relations are produced and articulated through people, their interactions and relations, and perceived differences. In an era of super-diversity, subjects live with multiple, overlapping, mutually inflecting identities, far from previous tick-box approaches which treat identity as a static set of categories one may check off as representing. Considering intersecting lines of difference, we see that identity is not just discrete categories, but a process of drawing boundaries, taking positions, playing with representations, and making meaning out of symbolic resources.

Keywords: super-diversity; identity; sexuality; enoughness; authenticity


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-08-11

Published in Print: 2016-09-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2016, Issue 241, Pages 39–68, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2016-0022.

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