Re: Dialogical Self

From: Phil Chappell (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2005 - 17:57:22 PST

I found a lot to relate to personally in the article and the analysis
of polyphonic voices, being from a non-dominant cultural group for the
past 10 years. What I found particularly interesting, and something
that I think captures the situatedness/co-constructiveness elements of
the analyses is on page 233, "This polyphony of different voices
constructs and shapes DasGupta's acculturation experiences as fluid,
dynamic, contextual, contingent, and not as fixed and singular as
reflected in the universal concepts of marginalisation, integration and
separation". There is something uncannily similar to my experiences in
the notion of the voices interplaying and feeding off each other and
being influenced by the sociocultural setting(s).

I can't help but think back to my readings of Bakhtin on Dostoevsky's
brilliance in creating the multi-voiced and polyphonic novel...the
current article, for me, is a creative application of some of Bakhtin's
ideas - I wonder how much of Bakhtin's voice needs to be given space in
order to find the co-constructed elements of the analysis?


On 11/02/2005, at 4:36 AM, Mike Cole wrote:

> Ini--
> 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
> for.
> 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.
> :-)
> mike

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