On the Interpretive Work of Reconstructing Discourses and Their Local Contexts

  • Florian Elliker University of St. Gallen
  • Jan K. Coetzee University of the Free State
  • P. Conrad Kotze University of the Free State
Keywords: sociology of knowledge approach to discourse, sociology of the local, interpretive methodology, higher education, transformation, race, racism, culture, focus groups, secondary data analysis, ethnographic semantics, university, South Africa

Abstract

Many strands of discourse analysis conceive discourses as relatively large structural connections. They are thus able to comprehend seemingly scattered phenomena as articulations of macro-level structures. Their focus on the macro-level of analysis, however, comes often at the neglect of the local contexts in which discourses are reproduced and employed. Action and interpretation are not only instructed by discourses, but also by local systems of relevance of resilient groups, communities or organizations.

In this article, we develop interpretive strategies to distinguish between discourses and their reproductive local context. Based on a case study that analyzes students' narrations about their experiences of the transformation process at a higher education institution in South Africa, we reconstruct the "ethnographic context" of these narrations. We demonstrate how the use of a specific discourse—thematically linked to "race" and "culture"—is shaped by local groups, in our case by student residences at this higher education institution. We frame our case in social-constructivist terms and pursue a sociology of knowledge approach to discourse.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs130342

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Florian Elliker, University of St. Gallen

Florian ELLIKER works as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of the Free State. He obtained his PhD at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). His research interests include the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse, the narrative study of lives, sociology of the local, transformation, political discourses and discourses on migration, qualitative social research methodology.

Jan K. Coetzee, University of the Free State

Jan K. COETZEE is senior professor at the University of the Free State. His main areas of specialization are the narrative study of lives, qualitative methodology and the study of social change. He has published widely in these areas and serves on the boards of international research committees and academic journals.

P. Conrad Kotze, University of the Free State

P. Conrad KOTZE is holding a prestige doctoral scholarship at the University of the Free State and is working as a part-time teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology. His interests include storytelling sociology, phenomenology, qualitative methodology and the philosophy of science.

Published
2013-07-29
How to Cite
Elliker, F., Coetzee, J. K., & Kotze, P. C. (2013). On the Interpretive Work of Reconstructing Discourses and Their Local Contexts. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-14.3.1929
Section
Single Contributions

Most read articles by the same author(s)