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(Re)conceptualizing I/identity: An Introduction

by Jennifer Rowsell & Sandra Schamroth Abrams - 2011

In the past fifteen years, there has been a shift in the way researchers have conceptualized identity, moving from the “identity-as-thing” to an understanding of “identity-in-practice” (Leander, 2002, 198–199). This is not necessarily a new concept, as earlier researchers recognized sociocultural influences on perception (Bartlett, 1932/1995; Vygotsky, 1978) and on the performative nature of identity (Butler, 1990; Goffman, 1959). New Literacy Studies theorists (Barton, 1994, 2001; Gee, 1996, 2000; Street 1995, 1999) began to examine identity-in-practice in relation to literacy. In addition, ethnographic accounts (Heath, 1983; Purcell-Gates, 1997; Taylor, 1983; Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988) began to document ways that literacies and identities were interconnected. There was an epistemological shift, underscoring the individual and community practices that help to shape one’s identity. Literacies included all activities inside and outside school, highlighting the relationship between people’s literacy practices and their situated actions, behaviors, beliefs, and values, or their Discourses (Gee, 1999, 2008, 2011).

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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 110. No. 1.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 13, 2011, p. 1-16
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18370, Date Accessed: 1/22/2022 1:16:20 AM

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About the Author
  • Jennifer Rowsell
    Brock University
    E-mail Author
    JENNIFER ROWSELL holds a Canada Research Chair in Multiliteracies at Brock University’s Faculty of Education. She is an author and coauthor of books and journal articles in multimodality, multiliteracies, and new literacy studies.
  • Sandra Abrams
    St. John's University
    E-mail Author
    SANDRA SCHAMROTH ABRAMS is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at St. John’s University, New York. Her research focuses on digital learning and new media, with a concentration on the power structures, social dynamics, and contextual knowledge related to video game practices.
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