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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Across theories of identity and subjectivity, discourse and communication are central, constitutive elements. This chapter clarifies conceptions of these notions and portrays them as separate yet connected. It then reviews four broad lines of theorizing identity in which discourse and communication are prominent: Social Identity Theory (SIT), narrative theorizing, critical/poststructural approaches, and emerging relational ontologies. In addition to drawing out contrasting conceptions of agency marking the four perspectives, the chapter shows how discourse and communication are central to the existence, persistence, and transformation of identities. To do so, the chapter employs illustrations from sports fandom, branding, and peer bullying. The key insight of the chapter is that, across these four traditions, discourse and communication are increasingly understood not as representational, but as constitutive: identities do not draw upon discourse and communication to express or represent themselves, but instead are generated, sustained, and altered exclusively in and through discursive and communicative practices.

Keywords: identity work, communication, discourse, narrative, critical theory, poststructuralism, power, subjectivity, relational ontologies

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