Continuing the Conversation: Coming Together for Social Sustainability

Elizabeth Miller, Department of English, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC): Continuing the Conversation: Coming Together for Social Sustainability

Elizabeth Miller has been studying the INSS and how members talk about social sustainability and related topics. Her presentation this year considers the past two years of conferences and other interactions.

This presentation provides an overview of some notable shifts and continuities in discourse topics that INSS members addressed at the 2013 and 2014 INSS conferences, in Charlotte, North Carolina. This kind of overview is intended to reflect back to INSS members how they jointly construct salient topics and how they position themselves in relation to each other and to non-INSS members.

Corpus analysis was used for this project. Two corpora were created, one comprised of the talk produced in breakout sessions in 2013 and one of breakout sessions in 2014. These sessions were videotaped and the tapes were then transcribed. The transcriptions were subsequently anonymized and formatted for corpus analysis. In order to determine salient topics in these discussions, word frequency and keyword (keyness) analyses were conducted using the corpus software AntConc. Keyness is a strong indicator of the “aboutness” of talk. In this case, keyness points to what INSS members treat as important topics for discussion. Cluster analyses was also used to determine the patterns of words that frequently co-occurred with selected focal terms.

The presentation compares which topics were treated as less salient, more salient, or about the same in salience by INSS members in 2014 compared to 2013. Using cluster analysis, it explores how pronoun usage and other referents signal how INSS members positioned themselves in relation to each other (“we”, “together”). In addition, it analyzes how members positioned themselves in relation to non-INSS members (“they” and “them” as well as “the public” and “people”). It then discusses some implications of the discursive effects of how these reference terms are used.

This presentation comes as a series of Power Point slides. It will take approximately nine to ten minutes to read through the slides.

Additional Material: click on the below image to access the presentation.