Analysis of Identity Construction through Positioning Acts in Nigerian Vice-Presidential Debate Discourses

Amaka Grace Nwuche, Goodluck Chinenye Kadiri, Ogechi Chiamaka Unachukwu


More often in political debates, participants do not readily expound their identities and attitudes; they employ language structure that requires the analysis of the placing of self/other in certain positions for comprehension. Hence, this study aims at exploring identity construction through positioning act strategies and the identities projected in the discourse practices by two vice presidential debate candidates in defining selves/others, parties’ stance and group categorization. The study used Langenhove and Harre (1999) positioning theory. The data for the study are delimited to five excerpts randomly selected from thirty-two online-transcribed discourses between two debate participants. Findings reveal that the candidates made use of first and second order performative and accountive positioning acts to implicate self/party’s moral order and positive stance and the other’s immoral attributes. The modes of positioning are moral, personal, intentional, deliberate self and other and forced self-positioning. The discursive practices involved are such that are strategically manipulated to divulge the individual’s attitudes to the socio-economic and political development of the nation, thereby portraying the following identities: Scrupulous, dogged, competent, loyalist and committed (self/group) identity and corrupt minded, incompetent, failure and uncommitted (others) identity. In conclusion, the knowledge of the concepts of positioning and its applicability to the understanding of political debates is essential for the understanding of the politicians’ ideologies and identities as well as their stance on the nation’s growth.


Positioning Theory, Political Discourse, Identity Construction, Vice Presidential Debate Discourses, Communicative Act

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