On Multiple Identities and Educational Contexts: Remarks on the Study of Inequalities and Discrimination

Publication Title

Journal of Language, Identity & Education

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identity, sex, gender, discrimination, education, language


Other Sociology | Sociology


Concerns about identity in educational research and theory have understandably focused on politically salient identity categories, especially class, race/ethnicity, and sex/gender. This focus contributes to political discourse, but offers a simplistic if not totally misleading picture of which identities are observably relevant in educational settings and practice. Politically salient categories are not always relevant in particular educational contexts, and even when they are, their relevance cannot properly be understood without an appreciation for the multiplicity and diversity of identities which become relevant in particular contexts and courses of action. These arguments are illustrated with reference to the case of Mary Daly, the feminist professor who refused to integrate male students into her women's studies courses. A detailed analysis of a news interview excerpt, drawing upon ethnomethodological conversation analysis, suggests how identity can be respecified more widely and more finely by situating identity within natural language use and social interaction.

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