A Performative View of Language—Methodological Considerations and Consequences for the Study of Culture

Ester Barinaga

Abstract


Although researchers across the social sciences speak of a linguistic turn, most research exploring culture still assumes a traditional perspective on language, which conceives meaning as representation. Yet, WITTGENSTEIN convincingly criticized the epistemological basis of such a perspective, offering an alternative view on language. The paper begins by explaining the central points of a performative perspective of language: first, words do things; second, the meaning of an utterance is not directly given by the utterance; and third, meaning is in use. The change in perspective has direct consequences for the way we conceptualize and study our research phenomena. The second part of the paper deals with how social phenomena can be re-conceptualized and studied, putting a special emphasis on the phenomenon of culture. Finally, drawing from my own empirical material, the paper describes the consequences for the study culture applying a performative view of language. Methodological considerations of the change in perspective are also discussed.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901244

Keywords


performative language; culture; qualitative methodology

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Copyright (c) 2009 Ester Barinaga

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