Between Provocation and Conformity: Agency as Discursive Positioning

Julia C. Nentwich


In this article I present the analyses of eight problem-centered interviews with individuals involved in the struggle for women's right to vote in the Swiss Cantons Appenzell-Innerrhoden and Appenzell-Ausserrhoden. The goal was to reveal the discursive constructions of subjective agency in the context of the societal change process. Highly relevant for subject positioning and the construction of a "warranting voice" are the balancing acts between "provocation and conformity" and change coming "from within" or "from outside." These two extremes have been discussed as respectively exclusive. However, the analysis shows that subject positions enabling change agency have only to be realized through a process of negotiation between these discursive repertoires. The empirical analysis shows in detail that the social constructionist position of a constructed subject is not opposed to the idea of agency. On the contrary, the process of subject positioning is the necessary pre-condition for agency.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs090381


change agency; subject positioning; change; warranting voice; discourse analysis; women’s right to vote


Copyright (c) 2009 Julia C. Nentwich

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