Butler, Cameron, Haiman and habits

Angus Grieve-Smith grvsmth at panix.com
Thu Jan 31 08:18:58 UTC 2013

     I'm currently re-reading Deborah Cameron's /Verbal Hygiene/, one of 
my favorite linguistics books of all time.  In Chapter 1, Cameron draws 
on the work of philosopher Judith Butler (and through her, I would 
imagine, on Michel Foucault) on gender as a social construction built 
out of repeated performance.  Cameron then goes on to speculate that 
other social identities such as race, class and nationality can be 
similarly constructed, digging below previous assumptions in 
sociolinguistics of identity as an immutable thing.

     I haven't yet read Butler, but having studied the work of John 
Haiman and Joan Bybee, among others, it occurred to me that any repeated 
activity ("performance," if you like) generates its own habit, its own 
schema, its own nature as a thing in the minds of people who observe it, 
precisely through this kind of repetition. It becomes progressively less 
conscious and more natural-feeling. It is partly under conscious 
control, but not completely.

     Is anyone familiar with attempts to synthesize concepts of 
ritualization and schematization with Butler's work, and hence with 
Cameron's?  I don't want to reinvent the wheel, and I want to give 
others credit.

				-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
				grvsmth at panix.com

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