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Séminaire doctoral - Pratiques langagières - terrains, méthodes, théories
Jan Blommaert (University of Tilburg)
In the context of a large-scale project which I called "Durkheim and the Internet", I have tried to propose several social-theoretical constructs grounded in contemporary sociolinguistic/linguistic-anthropological research, capable of doing justice of the post-Durkheimian world - a world in which we lead our social lives online as well as offline, locally as well as translocally, in very different kinds of communities than the ones imagined in the Durkheimian tradition of sociology. One of these constructs is that of "chronotopic identities". I start from the observation that the online-offline world is characterized by a phenomenal fragmentation of social (public and private) spacetime and extremely complex connections between online and offline forms of social practice, calling into question widespread and mainstream social-theoretical constructs of community and, inevitably, identity. In order to shape a realistic empirical research terrain, I suggest that we take spacetime configurations as our unit, and see such units as "chronotopes" in the Bakhtinian sense: concrete "ideologized" contexts characterized by specific normative-evaluative complexes, interactionally performed. The latter I call "moralized behavioral scripts", and such scripts establish the perimeter of what is socially acceptable and what is not in the specific spacetime configuration. The outcome of this exercise is a view in which "big" identities (such as class, nationality, gender, ethnicity...) do not disappear but (a) are located as characteristic for specific chronotopes and (b) are never the only relevant diacritics, but are always part of a "bundle" alongside "small" or "light" identities. The latter are traditionally dismissed as relatively irrelevant; while, in sociolinguistics, we see that they often prevail in the lived experience of social actors - think of the identitarian-evaluative power of accent in speech.