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


  • Ester Barinaga Stockholm School of Economics




performative language, culture, qualitative methodology


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


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Ester Barinaga, Stockholm School of Economics

Ester BARINAGA is Associate Professor at the Dpt. of Management, Politics and Philosophy at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark since January 2009. Previously, she was Wallander Fellow at the Economic Research Institute at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. From January 2007 until May 2008 she was a visiting scholar at Stanford University. Before that, she spent a few years as researcher at the Department of Industrial Economics and Management at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. She obtained her PhD from the Stockholm School of Economics in 2002. She has published in Human Relations and in February 2009 her book with the title Powerful dichotomies—Inclusion and exclusion in the information society will be published. Her research interests include cultural diversity, ethnicity in the information society, and the intersection between technology and culture.




How to Cite

Barinaga, E. (2009). A Performative View of Language—Methodological Considerations and Consequences for the Study of Culture. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-10.1.1226



Theoretical Reflections on Conceptualizing Intercultural Communication