Cultural Difference as a Resource for Arguments in Institutional Interactions Public Deposited
Natasha Shrikant is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She uses ethnography and discourse analysis to analyze relational, institutional, and/or political ramifications of identity-negotiation in interaction. Her work focuses on negotiation of racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, and political identities in institutional contexts.
My deepest thanks to Jone Brunelle, my research assistant who transcribed this data and helped identify sections for analysis, and to Menno Reijven who graciously sent me relevant literature on argumentation. I would also like to thank Gonen Dori-Hacohen and the anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper presented at the 2019 International Communication Association annual conference. Last, this paper was greatly improved by feedback from the anonymous Communication Monographs (CM) reviewers and the CM editor, Dr. Paul Schrodt.
This article analyzes how institutional members orient to cultural difference during arguments in meeting interactions. Membership categorization analysis (MCA) of twenty-one hours of audio-recorded conversations from eight months of fieldwork with an Asian American Chamber of Commerce illustrates that participants orient to cultural difference as a resource when building, supporting, or opposing arguments about institutionally related activities. Participants constructed cultural differences between cultural categories or participants oriented to cultural difference as a taken-for-granted fact and used this fact to support their arguments. Overall, this study contributes to theorizing intercultural communication through illustrating how cultural difference is a discursive phenomenon. MCA of participants’ interactions reveals nuanced, complex ways that cultural difference routinely constitutes institutional life.
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