(Re)imagining the nation: Language socialization in Ukrainian classrooms

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

Fifteen years after emerging as an independent state following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine is in the process of "re-imagining" the nation as one based a Ukrainian civic identity. Revitalization of the Ukrainian language, long subordinate to Russian, is viewed as essential to this process, with the language serving to (a) re-establish the link between ethnic Ukrainians and what is represented as their "true" identity, (b) distance the country from its Russian-speaking Soviet past and its now-discredited ideologies, and (c) unite Ukraine's diverse people within a single nation.

This dissertation investigates the process of national re-imagining through a microanalysis of classroom interaction in two 5th grade Ukrainian language and literature classrooms in Vinnycja, Ukraine. Based on ten months of ethnographic observation, videotaping, and transcription of classroom practices, it focuses on oral assessments of children's verbal behavior as a vehicle for socializing children into appropriate ways of speaking Ukrainian and into the language ideologies that legitimate these ways of speaking as an affirmation of a distinct Ukrainian identity.

Data analysis is qualitative and employs both (a) micro-level analysis of videotaped classroom interaction using discourse and conversational analytic techniques and (b) macro-level ethnographic analysis that draws upon fieldnotes, classroom texts, and interviews with parents and teachers in order to situate these classroom practices within a larger context of Ukrainian language ideologies and Ukrainian language politics.

The analysis examines three types of assessment practices. First, corrective feedback that targets children's code switching into Russian socializes children into ideologies that promote "pure" language and serves to police the boundaries between Ukrainian and Russian. Second, assessment practices that emphasize affective and poetic uses of Ukrainian serve as a means of elevating the status of Ukrainian and encouraging children to embrace the language as part of their linguistic and cultural heritage. Finally, children are socialized into participating in assessment activities as co-assessors of the verbal performances of classmates based on institutionally sanctioned criteria. These co-constructed assessments socialize children into (a) taking responsibility for appropriate verbal behavior of both themselves and others and (b) voicing the language ideologies promoted in the classroom.

Indexing (details)

Slavic literature;
Cultural anthropology
0290: Linguistics
0314: Slavic literature
0326: Cultural anthropology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Ideology; Language; Nation; Revitalization; Socialization; Ukrainian
(Re)imagining the nation: Language socialization in Ukrainian classrooms
Friedman, Debra Ann
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 67/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Ochs, Elinor
University of California, Los Angeles
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
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