Abstract This paper is a case study of a Filipino woman who migrated to Korea to marry a Korean farmer and who ends up using her knowledge of English to navigate power differences in her exchanges with Korean interlocutors. I extend the tradition of research on intercultural communication by drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic power. Employing the ethnography of an embedded case study, this paper adopts inductive thematic analysis and discourse analysis to show (a) Natalie’s attitudes toward Korean and English, (b) her use of English in the Korean school setting as a parent to destabilize power differences, (c) her encounters with institutional/ideological walls that reinforce power differences, and (d) her daughter’s strategies of appropriating her mother’s English speaking status. The data reveal how Natalie – being in an inferior social position due to her status as a foreign bride – strategically used the symbolic power of English in an effort to position herself as a legitimate interlocutor. The clash between the global legitimacy of English and the local legitimacy of Korean replicates on a microscale the larger symbolic struggles that are going on the geopolitical level in intercultural encounters. By discussing the historical, (post)colonial reality that study participants faced, this paper ultimately demonstrates a conflict between various symbolic orders and highlights the eminently paradoxical struggle for symbolic power.
Applied Linguistics Review – de Gruyter
Published: Nov 1, 2016