Published June 14, 2022
Academics, researchers and students from around the world interested in positioning theory — a concept in social psychology that characterizes interactions between individuals — are invited to attend the 2022 Positioning Theory Conference being held next month at UB.
Organized by the Center for Literacy and Reading Instruction in the Graduate School of Education, the international conference will allow researchers and practitioners at all career stages to share in-depth research and discuss the use of positioning theory in social science disciplines.
The three-day conference is scheduled from July 24-27. Guests may attend in person at Clemens Hall on the North Campus or virtually. In-person attendance includes access to both on-site and virtual sessions. The conference is open to all, but advance registration is required by June 22. To register, visit the conference website.
“Even if someone else’s discipline is unrelated to yours, you still have something to talk about because you have this shared interest in positioning theory,” says Mary McVee, professor of learning and instruction and director of the Center for Literacy and Reading Instruction. “That’s what makes smaller conferences like this special: You get to have those interesting conversations.”
Positioning theory addresses individual rights, duties and obligations, and explores the mechanisms through which roles are assigned or denied, either to oneself or others. The theory describes storylines and agency that determine the boundaries of future acts and the meanings of what people say and do.
Research on the theory suggests that positioning can have direct moral implications. A person or group’s position may result in being identified as trusted or distrusted, or “with us” or “against us.” Additionally, multiple positions can be identified in ways that may help move beyond binary approaches to problems.
“I’ve used positioning to look at how predominantly white teachers talk about race and how they position themselves and the multiple positions that they take up,” says McVee. “If we think about positions being multiple, that enables us, in any field and with a lot of different research problems and disciplines, to explore the multifaceted parts that exist.”
Conference presenters will represent 13 countries and a diverse array of disciplines, including education, political science, linguistics, business, communication studies and international relations. Keynote speakers include: