This thesis investigates the relationship between identity and discourse in a networked
collaborative environment in order to explore the following question:
Is the construction of a common identity taking place?
The research question draws on the socio-cultural theory and, in particular, on the view
according to which the development of a common identity is an important dimension of
learning. More specifically, the thesis builds upon recent criticism attracted by the sociocultural
notion of ―Community of Practice‖ for its inadequate account of the relationship
between identity, language and practice, both in traditional and computer-mediated
settings. The empirical section of the thesis reports a study which applies the concept of
recognition work developed by James Gee to the discursive dynamics identified in a
―discussion room‖ of an Italian online community of young psychologists and psychology
students. In the study, discourse analysis was carried out on 20 online discussions and
on 23 semi-structured interviews.
The findings demonstrate that the notion of recognition work can be used to study how
identities are constructed and negotiated through discourse, and provide an additional
insight into the role of computer-mediated communication in the relationship between
identity and learning. The findings also have theoretical implications, raising the question
as to whether the emphasis on communities of practice has exhausted its possible
contributions to a socio-cultural theory of learning. Additionally, the thesis also considers
the implications for the design of virtual learning environments that try to foster
collaborative learning through networked discourse.
|Date of Award||1 Dec 2009|
|Supervisor||Richard Joiner (Supervisor)|