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


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.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Androutsopoulos, J., and A. Georgakopoulou
(2003) Discourse constructions of youth identities. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Antaki, C
(1994) Explaining and Arguing, The Social Organization of Accounts. London: Sage.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Bolinger, D
(1979) Metaphorical agression: Bluenoses and coffin nails. In J.E. Alatis & G.R. Tucker (eds.), Language in Public Life (GURT). Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, pp. 258-271.Google Scholar
Cheng, M
(2006) Constructing a new political spectacle: Tactics of Chen Shui-bian’s 2000 and 2004 Inaugural Speeches. Discourse & Society 17.5: 583–608. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
De Fina, A
(2003) Identity in Narrative, a Study of Immigrant Discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
De Fina, A., D. Schiffrin, and M. Bamberg
(2006) Introduction. In A. De Fina, D. Schiffrin & M. Bamberg (eds.), Discourse and Identity, Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics 23. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.1-23.Google Scholar
Du Gay, P., J. Evans, and P. Redman
(2000) General introduction. In P. Du Gay, J. Evans & P. Redman (eds.), Identity: A reader. London: Sage, pp. 1-5.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Edwards, D., and J. Potter
(1992) Discursive Psychology. London: Sage.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Ferencik, M
(2007) Exercising politeness: Membership categorization in a radio phone-in programme. Pragmatics 17.3: 351-370.  BoP CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Fowler, R., and G. Kress
(1979) Critical linguistics. In R. Fowler, B. Hodge, G. Kress & T. Trew (eds.), Language and control. London: Routledge, pp. 185-213.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Goffman, E
(1967) Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books.  BoPGoogle Scholar
(1979) Footing. Semiotica 25.1/2: 1-29. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hall, S
(2000) Who needs 'identity'? In P. Du Gay, J. Evans & P. Redman (eds.), Identity: A reader. London: Sage, pp. 15-30.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Harris, Robert A
(2005) A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices. Available at [accessed on October 9, 2006]: http://​www​.virtualsalt​.com​/rhetoric​.htm
Hewitt, J.P., and R. Stokes
(1975) Disclaimers. American Sociological Review 40.1: 1-11. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Holmes, J
(1984) Modifying illocutionary force. Journal of Pragmatics 8: 345-65. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Jayyusi, L
(1984) Categorization and the Moral Order. Boston: Routledge.Google Scholar
Johnstone, B
(1996) The linguistic individual. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Lakoff, G
(1973) Hedges: A study in meaning criteria and the logic of fuzzy concepts. Journal of Philosophical Logic 2: 458-508. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1991) Metaphor and War: The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf. Available at [accessed on October 9, 2006]: http://​www3​.iath​.virginia​.edu​/sixties​/HTML​_docs​/Texts​/Scholarly​/Lakoff​_Gulf​_Metaphor​_1​.html
Malone, M.J
(1995) How to do things with friends: Altercasting and recipient design. Research on Language and Social Interaction 28.2: 147-170. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Matoesian, G.M
(1999) The grammaticalization of participant roles in the constitution of expert identity. Language in Society 28: 491-521. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Ochs, E
(1979) Planned and unplanned discourse. In T. Givón (ed.), Syntax and Semantics, Volume 12: Discourse and Syntax. New York: Academic Press, pp. 51-80.Google Scholar
(1993) Constructing social identity: A language socialization perspective. Research on Language and Social Interaction 26.3: 287-306. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Pomerantz, A
(1986) Extreme case formulations: A way of legitimizing claims. Human Studies 9: 219- 29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Potter, J
(1996) Representing Reality; discourse, rhetoric and social construction. London: Sage. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Prince, E.F., J. Frader, and C. Bosk
(1982) On hedging in physician-physician discourse. In R.J. Di Pietro (ed.), Linguistics and the Professions. New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, pp. 83-97.Google Scholar
Sacks, H
(1972) An initial investigation of the usability of conversational data for doing sociology. In D. Sudnow (ed.), Studies in social interaction. New York: Free Press, pp. 31-74.Google Scholar
(1992) Lectures on Conversation, Volume 1. Oxford UK / Cambridge USA: Blackwell.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Schegloff, E.A
(1979) The relevance of repair to syntax-for-conversation. In T. Givón (ed.), Syntax and Semantics, Volume 12: Discourse and Syntax. New York: Academic Press, pp. 261-286.Google Scholar
(1992) On talk and its institutional occasions. In P. Drew & J. Heritage (eds.), Talk at work - Interaction in institutional settings (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics 8). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 101-134.Google Scholar
Schiffrin, D
(1985) Everyday Argument: The organization of diversity in talk. in T. Van Dijk (ed.), Handbook of discourse analysis: Volume 3: Discourse and Dialogue. London: Academic Press, pp. 35- 46.Google Scholar
Tannen, D
(1989) Talking Voices, Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Van De Mieroop, D.
(2005) An integrated approach of quantitative and qualitative analysis in the study of identity in speeches. Discourse & Society 16.1: 107-130. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Van De Mieroop, D
(2006) The implications of identity and fact construction for the genre of informative speeches. In P. Gillaerts & P. Shaw (eds.), The map and the Landscape, Norms and Practices in Genre. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 147-168.Google Scholar
. (2007) The complementarity of two identities and two approaches; Quantitative and qualitative analysis of institutional and professional identity. Journal of Pragmatics 39: 1120-1142. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Van De Mieroop, D., J. de Jong, and B. Andeweg
(2008) - I want to talk about… A rhetorical analysis of the introductions of 40 speeches about engineering. Journal of Business and Technical Communication 22.2: 186-210. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Weinstein, E.A
(1969) The development of interpersonal competence. In D.A. Goslin (ed.), Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. Chicago: Rand Mc Nally and Company, pp. 753-775.Google Scholar
Weinstein, E.A., and P. Deutschberger
(1963) Some dimensions of altercasting. Sociometry: Journal of interpersonal relations 26: 454-466. CrossrefGoogle Scholar