Plamena VALCHEVA, The Enactment of Leader Identity in Oral Narratives of Personal Experience in the Youth Organization AIESEC

Abstract: Through using narratives as data and sociolinguistic narrative analysis and positioning theory as analytical tools, the paper shows the discursive resources through which the enactment of leadership and leader identity is achieved in narratives-in-interaction. The analysis centres on a narrative of personal AIESEC experience excerpted from a corpus of naturally-occurring oral stories generated during video-based fieldwork at an international AIESEC conference in 2016 with the aim of teasing out leader identity within the context of narrative practice. To achieve this, sociolinguistic narrative analysis (Labov & Waletsky 1967) has been coupled with positioning analysis (Bamberg 1997) at the backdrop of the discursive approaches to leadership affiliating with a social constructionist stance on (leader) identity and emphasizing the primacy of discourse as a medium for identity construction (Fairhurst 2007). These lines of investigation zoom in on the aspects of leader identity negotiated by AIESEC members in the narrative performance and indicate that leader identity is crafted through acts of identity at three interrelated levels: the narrative world, the narrative interaction, and the wider sociocultural context, i.e. master narratives.

Keywords: narrative discourse; leader identity; social constructionism; discursive leadership; positioning theory; sociolinguistic narrative analysis.

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