LINGUIST List 14.1633

Tue Jun 10 2003

Diss: Socioling: Lytra: 'Constructing Play Frames...'

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. vally.lytra, Constructing Play Frames and Social Identities...

Message 1: Constructing Play Frames and Social Identities...

Date: Mon, 09 Jun 2003 08:59:11 +0000
From: vally.lytra <>
Subject: Constructing Play Frames and Social Identities...

Institution: King's College London
Program: Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Vally Lytra 

Dissertation Title: Constructing Play Frames and Social Identities:
The Case of a Linguistically and Culturally Mixed Peer Group in an
Athenian Primary School

Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director 1: Georgakopoulou Alexandra

Dissertation Abstract: 

This thesis explores how, through the use of playful talk in
discourse, the members of a linguistically and culturally mixed peer
group comprised of Greek-Turkish bilinguals and Greek-speaking
monolinguals (Greek-majority language, Turkish- minority language)
construct play frames and social identities, including a mixed peer
group identity, in an Athenian primary school. The data consists of
tape-recorded interactions among the peer group members, their
teachers and the researcher across different contexts at school. The
analytical framework draws on interactional sociolinguistics and
conversation analysis and it is further enhanced by insights from
ethnography as a process of inquiry and its conceptualisation of
culture as a system of practices.

This thesis has identified six contexts at school where play frames
are produced. Based on combinations of school-imposed features, these
contexts are further classified into two categories: institutionally
oriented contexts and non-institutionally oriented contexts. A key
finding is that peer group members employ mixed resources as
contextualisation cues to construct play frames in contact encounters,
notably cues mostly from the majority (Greek) as well as a limited set
of cues from the minority (Turkish) languages and cultures and from
the English foreign language taught at school. The data analysis
demonstrates that, as a rule, peer group members employ similar cues
across contexts, with the exception of whole-group classroom
interactions, in which they avoid using cues that require teachers
sharing peer group background knowledge in order to understand and
interpret them playfully. Although peer group members occasionally
contest the production of play frames, overall, they sustain them
across contexts. Consequently, in non-institutionally oriented
contexts play frames are introduced in talk either as main frames or
against a backdrop of task-related frames. In institutionally oriented
contexts, however, play frames are seldom initiated as main frames,
but emerge as parallel, embedded or forked frames.

The examination of playful talk and play frames provides a window into
the processes of social identity construction at school. To this end,
the data analysis reveals that peer group members engage in two
macro-processes (conversion and diversion) and six micro-processes
(sharing, appropriating, transforming, localising, contesting and
mixing), which lead to the construction of a mixed peer group identity
and its small culture. The research provides insights into the
interplay between playful talk, play frames and social identity
construction in contact encounters at school in response to the
increasing linguistic and cultural diversity that characterises
present day Greek society.
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