Alignment and belonging in the sociolinguistic interview: research assistants and negotiated rapport

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This chapter examines five first meetings of the author (an Anglo-Australian researcher), a Javanese research assistant, and five Javanese study participants. The meetings were interviews within a larger project, which explored how Indonesian youth used language styles to enact an identity known as gaul (literally, “sociable”). In the current chapter, the author reviews transcripts of these meetings and highlights how the research assistant facilitates rapport and orients him (the researcher) and the participants (the researched) to youth identity as a stance object (cf. Du Bois, 2007). The research assistant often does this through a series of rhetorical moves that enable interview participants to achieve role alignment as “researcher” and “researched,” respectively. This chapter shows how such role alignment is an interactional process, which often entails snap judgments about interactional preferences, common ground, and moral concerns. These judgments may be recognized as acts of belonging, which interactants must tend to quickly, to establish rapport and to collect good data. Yet, this chapter ends by pointing out some of the perils of negotiated alignment and belonging, and how discursive moves to establish rapport can, in fact, lead to the collection of less-than-best data.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReimagining Rapport
EditorsZane Goebel
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780190917098
ISBN (Print)9780197558744, 9780190917074
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Sociolinguistics
PublisherOxford University Press

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