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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Communication

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Benjamin Bailey

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Business and Corporate Communications | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | International and Intercultural Communication | Linguistic Anthropology | Organizational Communication | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Abstract

This dissertation takes an interpretive, discursive approach to understanding how organizational members create meanings about race, and other identities, through their everyday communication practices in the workplace. This dissertation also explores how these everyday discourses about race might reproduce, negotiate, or challenge ideologies that maintain the dominant position of Whiteness in United States racial hierarchies. I draw from data collected during eight months of ethnographic fieldwork (from Jan-Aug 2014) with two chambers of commerce in a large Texas city: an Asian American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and what I call the “North City” Chamber of Commerce (NCC). The AACC explicitly identifies with a racial group, while the NCC identifies with a geographic region (“North City”) associated with a White affluent identity.

Discourse analysis of audio and video recorded data gathered during fieldwork illustrates that, in this community, there are two prevalent discourses about race. One form of ‘race talk’ – practiced by Asians, minorities more generally, and White people who work with minority groups – can be characterized as explicitly addressing race as constitutive of professional identities. A second form of race talk, practiced by White NCC members, can be characterized as not explicitly discussing race and therefore implicitly invoking White identity as constitutive of professional identities. Overall, these forms of race talk illustrate how Asian identity is constructed as foreign, local, and diverse, and White identity is constructed as an invisible, non-raced identity and as an authentic, Texan identity. Furthermore, these forms of race talk reproduce boundaries between White and non-White businesses and position Whiteness as the normal, taken for granted professional identity, and minority identities as marked, ‘other’ identities in the business community.