(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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