Discourse, Dominance and Power Relations by Cristian Tileaga

Discourse, dominance and power relations
Inequality as a social and interactional object
University of East London
ABSTRACT This article focuses on some of the issues that arise when examin- ing social inequality and similar notions such as dominance or group superiority as participants’ concerns. It emphasizes the importance of understanding constructions of inequality in terms of how they are (1) situated, constructed and invoked in talk; and (2) oriented to and part of actions and ideological practices. These concerns are illustrated with an example from an interview with majority group members on ethnic issues. This shows how particular orientations to and descriptions of inequal- ity are constructed and what they might be doing. Implications for the study of the discursive construction and representation of social inequality in talk and the nature of inequality as an object in interaction are discussed.
K E Y W O R D S action construction discursive psychology dominance inequality
Questions of social inequality (and related notions) have constituted a central subject matter and have been extensively debated in research on social issues and social processes within sociology and social psychology. As some authors argue, traditional social psychology has largely ignored social inequality by choosing to focus on essential and objective group differences rather than on social context or power (Hollander and Howard, 2000). Scholars of ethnicity and politics, sociology and politics have been definitively more attentive to social inequality, but have chosen to focus on the macro, ‘structural’ aspects of social inequality and broader processes like social division, social stratification and differentiation. The study of