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Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide
Unformatted Document Text:  Ethnographic Interviews 5 narratives are patterned in both public and private conversations in reference to existing systems of power as they operate through cultural categories such as race, gender, or socioeconomic position. Narrative analysis is a particularly useful way to consider how this process of discursive constraint occurs. In order to communicate meaningfully with others, individuals must draw upon publicly-available narrative themes when describing their own beliefs. None of us can construct completely idiosyncratic narratives, therefore, but must choose which public narratives we will draw upon from a “repertoire” of narratives which are afforded legitimacy or delegitimated depending on their relation to existing institutions and structures of power. As Mehan (1997) notes: Language has power. The language we use in public political discourse and the way we talk about events and people in everyday life makes a difference in the way we think and the way we act about them…words have constitutive power; they make meaning. And when we make meaning, the world is changed as a consequence. (p. 250) Analyzing personal narratives therefore seeks to uncover links between individual narratives and public frameworks of meaning in order to understand both the discursive contours of the particular cultural moment as well as the way that individuals construct ways of living within it. To explore the narrative limits that articulate and offer justification for the material discrepancies of computer ownership in the U.S., we employed a loosely- structured interview guide to conduct interviews with seventy persons in twenty family groups. Seven of the family groups had annual household incomes of less than $25,000,

Authors: Clark, Lynn., Demont-Heinrich, Christof. and Webber, Scott.
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Ethnographic Interviews 5
narratives are patterned in both public and private conversations in reference to existing
systems of power as they operate through cultural categories such as race, gender, or
socioeconomic position.
Narrative analysis is a particularly useful way to consider how this process of
discursive constraint occurs. In order to communicate meaningfully with others,
individuals must draw upon publicly-available narrative themes when describing their
own beliefs. None of us can construct completely idiosyncratic narratives, therefore, but
must choose which public narratives we will draw upon from a “repertoire” of narratives
which are afforded legitimacy or delegitimated depending on their relation to existing
institutions and structures of power. As Mehan (1997) notes:
Language has power. The language we use in public political discourse and the
way we talk about events and people in everyday life makes a difference in the
way we think and the way we act about them…words have constitutive power;
they make meaning. And when we make meaning, the world is changed as a
consequence. (p. 250)
Analyzing personal narratives therefore seeks to uncover links between individual
narratives and public frameworks of meaning in order to understand both the discursive
contours of the particular cultural moment as well as the way that individuals construct
ways of living within it.
To explore the narrative limits that articulate and offer justification for the
material discrepancies of computer ownership in the U.S., we employed a loosely-
structured interview guide to conduct interviews with seventy persons in twenty family
groups. Seven of the family groups had annual household incomes of less than $25,000,


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