The Construction of Social Reality

in Minority Discourse:
Polish Immigrants in Montreal.
Maciej Domanski
Département d’anthropologie
Faculté des arts et des sciences

Despite their status of “socially accepted clichés” (Wetherell and Potter, 1992: 91), interpretative repertoires should not be confused with rigid cognitive representations, schemata or semiotic codes (cf. Potter and Wetherell, 1987). The semiotic aspect is important, insofar as it determines the utility of repertoires for the purposes of rhetorical construction. The latter depends on a certain linguistic and cultural competence, and on common assumptions about the meaning of terms and associations shared by speakers as members of specific “interpretive communities” (cf. Eco, 1979: 7; Luke, 1989: 60-63). But whatever their semiotic or cognitive functions, interpretative repertoires do not have any special powers that govern the conditions of their use (as codes have, for example). It is rather the context and speakers’ practical needs that determine the choice of repertoires and the ways in which they are used.

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