WP115 Micro-analysis & “structures of feeling”: Convention & creativity in linguistic ethnography (2004)

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There is currently a reflexive debate in US linguistic anthropology about the necessity, development and shape of general models of language as culture (Duranti 2003). Coming from outside, but following Hymes? view that ?problems lead where they will? and relevance commonly leads across disciplinary boundaries? (1969:44), this paper takes the line that modelling is necessarily limited by the commitment to particularity in both ethnography and interactional micro-analysis. In their response to particularity and the fact that actors continually manage to produce actions that are ?slightly ?off? the most conventional version of what they could have been expected to do? (Varenne & McDermott 1998:177), some researchers look respectfully away (conversation analysis), while others attempt descriptions of artful performance. Even so, though he welcomes the analysis of performance (in Richard Bauman?s sense) as an improvement on the ?collection and analysis of texts?, Hymes sees this as only the second moment of three: ?Continuous with the first [moment – the collection and analysis of texts -] and the second [- the analysis of performance -], this third is the process in which performance and text live, the inner substance to which performance is the cambium, as it were, and the crystallised text the bark? (1996:118). ?Third moment? experiences like this, though, involve ?something a bit beyond our current concerns? (ibid).
Attempting to make sense of data on young Londoners stylising Deutsch, posh and Cockney, I have found myself glancing from interactional sociolinguistics towards the kinks of ?inner speech?, referring to condensation symbolism, fantasy and fear (Rampton 2002, 2003). To justify this (and to clarify my methodological demeanour), I have invoked Raymond Williams? ?structures of feeling?. But are moves like these a dereliction of scientific responsibility, a transgressive invasion of Hymes? ?third moment?, or just a different kind of essentialism?