Sociology Index


Indexicality as used by ethnomethodologists refers to the contextual nature of behaviour and talk. Talk for example is indexical in the sense that it has no meaning without a context or can take on various meanings dependent on the context.

As we construct talk or listen to talk we all must engage in the interpretive process of constructing a context. With this context we give the talk a sense of concreteness or definiteness.

There is no way to avoid indexicality, however, nor a way to remove it, since talk about context itself is also indexical. For this reason constructing a sense of reality is an ongoing accomplishment of social members.

Reflexivity and indexicality are properties of behavior, settings and talk which make social construction of reality necessary. Both of these properties question the objectivity of accounts, descriptions, explanations, etc.

Language Ideology and the Transmission of Phonological Change Changing Indexicality in Two Situations of Language Contact Alicia Beckford Wassink, Univ. Washington, Judy Dyer, Univ. Michigan - The authors consider the changing indexicality of phonological variants in two different contact situations - Corby, United Kingdom, and Kingston, Jamaica. While quite different sites of contact, they suggest that similar sociolinguistic phenomena may be observed in both places.

The socially embedded interpretation of the data reveals that in both Corby and Kingston, one phonological variant may in fact index distinct and different identities for speakers in the respective communities. In both Corby and Kingston, features associated with historically stigmatized varieties have apparently been adopted by the younger generations as a means of marking local identity and pride.

Mobility, Indexicality, and the Enregisterment of "Pittsburghese" 
Barbara Johnstone, Jennifer Andrus, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Andrew E. Danielson, University of California.
This article explores the sociolinguistic history of a U.S. city. On the basis of historical research, ethnography, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistic interviews, the authors describe how a set of linguistic features that were once not noticed at all, then used and heard primarily as markers of socioeconomic class, have come to be linked increasingly to place and "enregistered" as a dialect called "Pittsburghese." To explain how this has come about, the authors draw on the semiotic concept of "orders of indexicality." They suggest that social mobility and geographical mobility during the latter half of the twentieth century has played a crucial role in the process.

"Are you losing your culture?": poetics, indexicality and Asian American identity 
Angela Reyes, University of Pennsylvania 
This article examines a school district conference panel discussion to illustrate how 'culture' is interactionally emergent and how 'identity' is performatively achieved through struggles to position the self and other in socially meaningful ways. Analyzing an interaction between a panel of Asian American teens and an audience of teachers, advisors and administrators, the author traces how the term 'culture' emerges as two constructs: 'culture as historical transmission' and 'culture as emblem of ethnic differentiation'. This is accomplished, in part, through emergent poetic and indexical patterning which shape categories and trajectories of personae to which speech event participants are recruited. These schemas, which are brought into circulation, reveal how metalevel constructs, such as 'identity politics' and 'multiculturalism', are played out rather vividly in microlevel interaction.

Transforming Signs. Iconicity and Indexicality in Russian Healing and Magic, Lindquist G
Abstract: In this article, the ethnography of magic and healing in contemporary Russia is analyzed using the basic concepts of Peircian semiotics. Indigenous terms of affliction used in magical diagnostics of misfortunes, as well as pantomimic gestures in hand healing are regarded as iconic and indexical signs. Their mode of signification is pragmatic presentation rather than textual representation, which underlies their capacity to effect transformations in consciousness. It is shown, however, that it is cultural conventions of their symbolic meanings that form these signs as icons and indexes.