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Discursive Psychology and the "New Racism"

Kevin McKenzie
Human Studies
Vol. 26, No. 4 (2003), pp. 461-491
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20010350
Page Count: 31
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Discursive Psychology and the "New Racism"
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Abstract

This paper addresses a range of theoretical issues which are the topic of recent social psychological and related research concerned with the "new racism." We critically examine examples of such research in order to explore how analyst concerns with anti-racist political activism are surreptitiously privileged in explanations of social interaction, often at the expense of and in preference to the work of examining participants' own formulations of those same activities. Such work is contrasted with an ethnomethodologically-informed, discursive psychology which seeks to the explore how participants' talk is responsively oriented to foreclosing the same sort of critique implicitly made available in new racism research as a way for speakers to account for their own and others' activities within the controversy which that same body of research seeks to settle. More specifically, we examine how the rhetorical context of controversy surrounding race and racism is imminent to the situated activities whereby speakers provide for its relevance and not, as assumed in new racism research, some independent factor affecting that interaction. Finally, we conclude with an analysis of an episode of talk recorded in a social science interview having as its topic the nature of cross-cultural contact in which the participants take up the issue of racism as a way of managing the conflicting demands with which they are confronted in accounting for their involvement as Western expatriates living in the Middle East. Throughout our analysis of these materials, the issue of racism is approached for how it features as a participant concern, raised by speakers in the course of attending to the immediate situated interactional business in which they are engaged.

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