A longitudinal study of students’ negotiation of language, literacy and identity
AbstractThe article is based on a longitudinal, qualitative case study of 20 Social Science students at a historically ‘white’, English-medium, South African university. The participants in the study are all from disadvantaged educational backgrounds and/ or are speakers of English as a second language. Post-structuralist theory is used to analyse students’ shifts in language and literacy attitudes and practices and in constructions of self over the course of their undergraduate years. The paper describes students’ ambivalence as they attempted to constitute appropriate subjectivity and become academically successful within the discourses of the academy, whilst retaining connections to home discourses. The participants used their linguistic resources and social science discourses to process, rationalise and neutralise their ambivalence. The paper describes how they started off trying to maintain a notion of single identity, but over time became adept, self-conscious and less conflicted about shifting identities across contexts.
Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2011, 29(2): 197–208