Re: Dialogical Self

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Thu Feb 10 2005 - 13:36:43 PST


I am not sure if the following you made in response to my not re the
Bhatia and Ram article
went to the whole list, or to me. I am inserting below and then will
respond in the hope that
I can move the incipient conversation forward.

Your wrote:

Did my message result in a joint understanding? May be not. And the
reason could be that I 'm trying to communicate about a difficult
subject matter in English.
I don't think co-construction and social situatedness are in conflict.
My problem with the article was that I didn't find enough
co-construction. What I did find was mainly about voices in the head
of the individual. What I missed in their framework - in Bakhtin words
- were the second and third voice .

The difficult was not with your English or your ideas, Ini-- I had not
read the article for a long
time and was responding too locally. Your insistence on the second
and third voices is
entirely appropriate.

I went back and re-read the article to see where I had gone astray in
responding to the social situatedness issue too narrowly. I think part
of the problem is an amiguity in the article itself and perhaps in the
way I see Bakhtin interpreted more generally (probably MY limited
understanding, neither yours nor Bakhtin's):

Focusing on pp.228-229, the section on "voice and dialogical self,"
and searching for terms related to social situatedness, I find two
relevant comments that may not be followed through on in the article.
1. The last sentence of the first paragraph talks about B emphasizing
" historical
situatedness, cultural construction, and social interaction."

2. At the bottom of the same page, 2 lines from the bottom, there is mention of
"sociocultural constraints."

When we get to the examples, situatedness, or sociocultural constraints are
kind of under theorized, or perhaps, there in common sense ways that I had some
difficulty linking to the idea of "situatedness" as I have come to
understand it (others in XMCA can speak to this better than I).
However, three voice are arguably there.
So, in the case of Khan, some of the quoted text is provided with no
information about
specific sociocultural constraints from the situation where the
utterances were produced. Another segment comes from a case where Khan
and her mother are going to see
a lawyer. In the latter, the visit to the lawyer occasions dialogue
that is analyzed in
Bakthtinian terms, but it is apparent before seeing the lawyer. So
what we are left
with is historical situatedness as described earlier in the paper
(the Southeast Asian diaspora, cultural norms in the US and country of
origin, etc) and no real treatment of the situated production of the
talk at that specific time and place.

I thin that statements such as "White America's categorization of
social others" so that "in this context" Indian- American women are
assciated with ....... (varous cultural icons and belifes) become a
stand in for situatedness. This example does appear to be "from the
culture" and there are the voices of mother and daughter, so in that
sense, there are three voices of the sort I think you were looking

Another thought: in so far as the topic is "self" and self is in
common sense terms
thought of as individual, and the narratives are autobiographical, it
pushes interpretation
toward seeming as if its very inside-the-headish."

Overall, I found a lot to like in the article. The Berry-style stage
theories are all over the literature with respect to identity and
"Variable X" so it was nice to see an alternative
approach with is emphasis on dynamics and diversity articulated with
interesting examples.

Thanks a lot. No need to go looking for Alphonse! You were there first.

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