"Conformity and change in leadership identity construction"
This talk explores the relationship between macro-level societal norms, often represented in widely accepted socio-cultural stereotypes, and the construction of social identities in particular workplace contexts.
Talk is always constrained by the parameters of broad societal norms and "inherited structures" of belief, power, and opportunity (Cameron, 2009: 15). The theoretical model developed by the Wellington Language in the Workplace team identifies these social constraints on interactional behaviour at different levels of generality. A range of discourse strategies and devices are used to negotiate socio-cultural norms in dynamic social interaction, conveying a range of stances indexing social meanings relevant in the construction of social identities.
Focusing on "the gender order" (Connell 1987) and the norms of "ethnicised communities of practice" (Holmes, Marra and Vine 2011), I illustrate how leaders in New Zealand organisations construct their complex professional identities through skilful negotiation of the conflicting demands of such normative constraints in everyday workplace interaction. The analysis indicates that negotiating these challenges results in new conceptualisations of leadership which embrace authoritative yet feminine models as well as radical new Maori models.
BIODATA. Janet Holmes holds a personal Chair in Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington. She teaches sociolinguistics courses, specialising in workplace discourse, New Zealand English, and language and gender. She is Director of the Wellington Language in the Workplace project (see www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/lwp) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Her books include Gendered Talk at Work , An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, now in its third edition, and the Blackwell Handbook of Language and Gender (with Miriam Meyerhoff).
She has also published numerous articles in international journals on topics ranging from gendered discourse, through socio-pragmatic aspects of interaction, to variationist features of New Zealand English. Her recent work focuses on leadership discourse and the relevance of gender and ethnicity in the workplace, and with the Language in the Workplace Project team she is currently exploring the relevance of socio-pragmatic skills for new migrants in professional workplaces.