Researching privilege in language teacher identity

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Journal Article
TESOL Quarterly: a journal for teachers of English to speakers of other languages and of standard English as a second dialect, 2016, 50 (3), pp. 755 - 768
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In a seminal book on researching language and identity, Cameron, Frazer, Harvey, and Rampton (1992) observed that “an enormous proportion of all social research is conducted on populations of relatively powerless people” (p. 2). In research on teacher identity, this focus on socially and professionally disadvantaged, marginalised, or vulnerable groups has changed little over succeeding decades. Within our profession, for example, a major focus in TESOL teacher identity research over recent years has been the marginalisation experienced by nonnative-English-speaker (NNES) teachers and teachers of colour. In contrast, relatively little explicit attention has been paid to researching privilege—and its means of reproduction—as a factor in teacher identity. As a consequence, there are few explicit guidelines that help researchers when investigating and writing about teachers who may enjoy certain privileges inherent in the TESOL profession, including the privileges attached to whiteness, native-English-speaker (NES) status, and Inner Circle (Kachru, 1997) origin. This brief article considers particular challenges that face a researcher when “looking up with our academic gaze” (Aguiar, 2012, p. 9) to focus on teacher participants (sometimes referred to as ‘informants’ or ‘subjects’) whose positioning as TESOL teachers is marked, at least in part, by privilege
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