Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 9, No 2 (2012)

Imagining the moral self

Annice I. Barber
Issued Date: 25 Mar 2015


This ethnographic study analyzes the negotiation of moral identity for urban adolescents through an examination of communicative practices employed in a community youth organization. More specifically, through participant observation, conversation analysis and study of cultural practices, I investigate how teens and adult leaders communicate in small group discussions to apply a framework for judging the morality of thoughts and actions. I restrict my analysis by focusing on imaginative collated narratives used in the negotiation of moral identity and in the socialization of the teens into a moral framework. Collated narratives are paired narratives that are carefully compared to note any points of disagreement so that some goal, such as moral development, may be accomplished. With the imaginative collated narratives in this youth group, Jesus is normally the protagonist in the exemplar narrative. The exemplar is collated with the essay narrative, which has a “you” protagonist. When collated, the exemplar provides the benchmark for moral assessment of the action and the protagonist in the essay.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.v9i2.25731


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