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Séminaire doctoral - Pratiques langagières - terrains, méthodes, théories
Mary Bucholtz (University of California, Santa Barbara) : The elements of style
Traditionally, style has been theorized in sociocultural linguistics in two different ways : within quantitative sociolinguistics it has been conceptualized as intraspeaker variation across social contexts (Labov 1966), while within qualitative sociolinguistics it has been understood as interspeaker variability in interactional norms due to cultural differences (Gumperz 1982 ; Tannen 1984). Over the past decade, however, a third perspective on style has gained ground, thanks to the efforts of scholars working within a variety of sociocultural linguistic approaches (e.g., Auer 2007 ; Coupland 2007 ; Eckert and Rickford 2001 ; Mendoza-Denton 2008). In this view, style is not determined by pre-existing social or cultural factors but is instead an agentive semiotic practice through which social identities are constituted. Drawing primarily on my own past and current research on language and youth identities in the United States, in this presentation I provide an outline of what I consider the key elements of this new concept of style, which can be divided for expository purposes into those in which semiotic processes are highlighted and those in which the stylistic agent is highlighted. The elements of style-as-semiotic-process include contextualization, indexicality, complexity, distinctiveness, and recombination, while the elements of style-as-social-action include agency, habitus, interpretation, ideology, and resignification. I argue that theorizing style as a semiotic practice with these characteristics is crucial to the nuanced analysis of identity within sociocultural linguistics.