Imagined Selves in Imagined Worlds: Identity and Power in Negotiated Communities

Here’s a mini-research paper I wrote last year and published in Issues in EFL. It plays around with the ideas of imagined communities and group intersubjectivity. The abstract:

This mini-research project explores the identities
and power structures formed within a negotiated
community (NC) that emerges from implementing a
classroom role-playing game (CRPG) with university
students. General theories of SLA have noted that
output and interaction are requisites for L2 acquisition,
while more social theories have called attention
to conflicting identities and power structures that
may aid or hinder the amount and types of such interactions
as they occur during acculturating into a
discourse community. This paper expands on
Norton’s (2001) interpretation of imagined communities
to introduce NCs, which are dynamic, collaboratively
imagined communities that are created and
mediated in real-time in the classroom. Through a
questionnaire and interviews, this paper explores to
what extent students felt invested in their fictional
identities as well as how equal they felt the power
structures were in the NC. The results of this project
suggest that the majority of students were invested
in their identities, and that they definitively agreed
that power was spread equally, although not necessarily
due to the specifically examined game mechanics
of the CRPG presented in this paper.

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