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Stance, positioning, and alignment in narratives of professional experience

  • Mike Baynham (a1)

Abstract

This article examines narratives of professional experience in a corpus of forty interviews in which English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers reflect on their professional life histories as well as their current teaching. The notion of “stance” emerged as a major theme: the teachers positioned themselves in relation to the policy environment, to learners, teaching and learning, and their sense of control in their working lives. Narrative was an important discursive resource for doing so and a range of narrative types (personal, generic/iterative, hypothetical, exemplum, and ‘negated’) are identified, each demonstrating performance features. Using Dubois's (2007) definition of stance, I examine the dynamic relationship between stance taking and discursive positioning, discussing the role of performance in these processes. Shifts into performance are shown to depend on participant roles and alignments in the interviews rather than on particular narrative types. Thus, the data contradicts some of Wolfson's (1976) observations on narratives in the research interview. The analysis contributes to our understanding of the research interview as a dynamically co-constructed speech genre rather than as a neutral locus for gathering data. (Professional narrative, performance, stance, alignment, positioning)

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