Co-constructing identities in speeches: How the construction of an ‘other’ identity is defining for the ‘self’ identity and vice versa

Dorien Van De Mieroop

Abstract

This paper investigates the way speakers construct their identities as representatives of their companies (institutional identity construction) in relation to the way they “project” an identity onto their audiences. The audience is “altercasted” (Weinstein and Deutschberger 1963) in the role of potential buyer of a product, thus evoking the standardized relational pair (Sacks 1972) of seller/buyer. The speaker then presents his company in the complementary role of seller of a product and as such a link is established between the identities of the speaker’s company and the audience. This discursive co-construction of identities is crucial for the way both identities receive meaning. The two cases that are discussed here on the one hand show similarities in the general pattern of the two identity constructions and the way they are interwoven with one another, but on the other hand also demonstrate that there are many unique and diverging ways of constructing and linking these identities.

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