Jones, Lucy (under review) Subverting transphobia and challenging ignorance: The interactive construction of resistant identity in a community of practice of transgender youth. Applied Linguistics.
In this paper, I present two moments of interaction emerging from a focus group between young people who are members of a community of practice: a support group for transgender youth and their parents. Using discourse analysis, I consider the effectiveness of the community of practice model for the analysis of shared identity construction between heterogeneous speakers. The data show the young people working collaboratively to construct a mutual identity despite their demographic variation, foregrounding their relative expertise in and experience of transgender issues, and minimising their differences. They do this to actively challenge and resist the transphobia and ignorance of others, which they present as an attempt to ‘other’ them, and ascribe themselves agency by subverting the heteronormative ideologies which inform this. The young people thus construct an active, resistant, and validated mutual identity rather than a victimised, submissive, or othered one. This identity work tells us much about the hugely important role played by support groups in helping young people to construct a positive persona in the face of transphobia.
Jones, Lucy (under review) Essentialism and normativity in lesbian and gay youths’ coming out stories. Sexualities.
This article demonstrates, via discourse analysis of a group of young gay and lesbian people’s coming out stories, the salience of essentialist ideologies on their identity construction. The study reveals underlying normative assumptions in the young people’s narratives, including those associated with binary gender and innate sexual desire, which they employ in order to construct a culturally authentic sexual identity. Through close sociolinguistic analysis of interactions, it is shown how identity construction is directly influenced by broader ideologies. The analysis provides evidence of the continued prevalence of heteronormativity and homonormativity as key influences in young queer people’s identity work.
Jones, Lucy (forthcoming 2018) “I’m not proud, I’m just gay”: Lesbian and gay youths’ discursive negotiation of otherness. Journal of Sociolinguistics
A pre-publication version of this manuscript is available here.
This article outlines the shared identity construction of five gay and lesbian members of an LGBT youth group, situated in a conservative, working-class, Northern English town. It is shown that the young people’s identity work emerges in response to the homophobia and ‘othering’ they have experienced from those in their local community. Through ethnography and discourse analysis, and using theoretical frameworks from interactional sociolinguistics, the strategies that the young people employ to negotiate this othering are explored; they reject certain stereotypes of queer culture (such as Gay Pride or being ‘camp’), and aim to minimise the relevance of their sexuality to their social identity. It is argued this reflects both the influence of neoliberal, ‘homonormative’ ideology, which casts sexuality in the private rather than public domain, and the stigma their sexuality holds in their local community. These findings point to the need to understand identity construction intersectionally.
with Georgina Turner, Sara Mills, Isabelle van der Bom, Laura Coffey-Glover and Laura L. Paterson (2017) Opposition as victimhood in media debates about same-sex marriage. Discourse and Society. 29(2).
Pre-publication version of the manuscript available here.
A summary of this paper can be found via the Discourses of Marriage Research Group blog.
In this paper, we take a queer linguistics approach to the analysis of data from British newspaper articles that discuss the introduction of same-sex marriage. Drawing on methods from CDA and corpus linguistics, we focus on the construction of agency in relation to the government extending marriage to same-sex couples, and those resisting this. We show that opponents to same-sex marriage are represented and represent themselves as victims whose moral values, traditions, and civil liberties are being threatened by the state. Specifically, we argue that victimhood is invoked in a way that both enables and permits discourses of implicit homophobia.
This work emerges from the Discourses of Marriage Research Group.
Jones, Lucy (forthcoming 2018) Discourses of transnormativity in vloggers’ identity construction. International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Draft manuscript available here.
This paper investigates the construction of two transgender vlogger personas, providing insight into the prevalence of normative discourses which may be drawn on when constructing transgender identities. Many transgender people around the world rely on the internet as a source of information and guidance; online video diaries (‘vlogs’), in which young people record and chart their experiences of transition, play a particularly important role. In this paper, discourse from two popular transgender vloggers is critically analysed. It is found that the vloggers index identities which are broadly in line with what Zimman (2012) terms the archetypal ‘true transsexual’, an ideological model of what it means to be ‘authentically’ transgender. This corresponds with heteronormative, essentialist expectations of binary gender. The vloggers are shown to authenticate their own experiences by stating what is ‘typical’ and positioning themselves as ‘experts’. Ultimately, it is argued that the version of transgender identity and experience that they put forwards reproduces prevalent discourses of normative gender and sexuality.
With Sara Mills, Laura L. Paterson, Georgina Turner and Laura Coffey-Glover (2017) Identity and naming practices in marriage and civil partnerships. Gender and Language, 11(3): 309-35.
Manuscript available here.
Using data from an online survey of 1,000 respondents, this article demonstrates the continued prevalence of traditional, heteronormative practices regarding marriage and naming practices. The survey data reveals that it continues to be viewed as more ‘normal’ for a woman to take her husband’s surname in a heterosexual union. Whilst other options (such as the woman retaining the surname given to her by her parents, for instance) are often considered or taken following heterosexual marriage, these continue to be seen as a deviation from the norm. We find that the role of tradition is critical to people’s decision over what to do with their surname, whether they follow the culturally expected route or consciously deviate from it, and that it is broadly perceived that same-sex couples have comparably more freedom than heterosexuals to do as they choose regarding their names. Through qualitative, critical analysis of the discursive responses of those completing our survey, we demonstrate that heteronormative assumptions about a woman’s role in a relationship with a man have continued salience and that, for many heterosexual women, this leads to a conscious and often difficult negotiation of her own identity as both an individual and a wife. We also suggest that there is a cultural perception in the UK that same-sex couples’ relationships are intrinsically more equal than opposite-sex couples’, and that they benefit from standing outside of heteronormative traditions. This work emerges from the Discourses of Marriage Research Group.
Jones, Lucy (forthcoming 2017) Lesbian Identity Construction. In Kira Hall & Rusty Barrett (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality. Oxford University Press
Manuscript available here.
This chapter considers the relevance of cultural discourses to speakers’ indexing of recognizable ‘lesbian’ identities. It begins with a discussion of the ideological discourses that lesbian women have been found to draw upon in their interactions, explaining key aspects of lesbian culture and experience. It then provides a survey of linguistic research into lesbian discourse, offering an account of the mostly Western studies conducted to date. A critical discussion of the prevalence of ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ identities is provided, with the inclusion of data from the author’s ethnographic fieldwork with a lesbian community of practice. The chapter demonstrates that these normative notions carry symbolic value in the construction of some lesbian identities, but also argues – through an account of studies looking at same-sex identified women who identify with categories other than lesbian – for research that looks beyond the white, middle-class, western women who so far dominate work in this area.