Greg Thompson

Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brigham Young University


Greg A. Thompson works at the intersection of anthropology, language, education, and communication with a broad focus on the mediating role of cultural contexts in human interaction. He focuses on how cultural contexts are critical to education and learning as it happens in small scale interaction. Greg employs discourse analytic methods drawn from linguistic anthropology in order to study how language creates micro-cultural contexts that are recognizable as certain types of social doings (cf. John Austin). In his research, Greg takes an anthropological approach to problems that have traditionally been the purview of psychologists including constructs like motivation and engagement. By bringing the approach of linguistic (e.g., Michael Silverstein) and psychological anthropology (e.g., Rick Shweder and Mike Cole) to the study of education, Greg’s work challenges many of our common sense assumptions about how education and learning are accomplished in actual teaching/learning interactions. In particular, Greg has developed a theory of culturally mediated subjectivity based on the Hegelian notion of recognition. In particular, he proposes that we consider our everyday interactions to be rituals of recognition in which we become recognizable as certain types of persons and so become a person of that type.

In this research, Greg focuses on American cultural contexts, with a particular interest in African-American settings and broader American cultural meanings of race and class and the consequences of these cultural categories for the structuring of American cultural systems. Greg conducted his field work in a low-income African-American community on the South Side of Chicago, and he will soon have a local field school set up in the Provo area.

Excerpted from: BYU’s Department of Anthropology

Selected Publications

  • Thompson, G. A. (2016). (With Benjamin Smith). Fashions of Speaking and Temporalities of Self-Fashioning. Special Issue of Language and Communication, January (Vol. 46).
  • Thompson, G. A. (2016). “Temporality, stance ownership, and the constitution of subjectivity.” Language and Communication, 46, 30-41.
  • Smith, B. K., and Thompson, G. A. (2016). “Semiosis, Temporality, Self-fashioning: An Introduction.” Language & Communication, 46, 14-18.
  • Thompson, G. A. (2015). “Beyond epistemology: Qualitative research and the constitution of forms of life.” Review of The Science of Qualitative Research by Martin Packer. Theory and Psychology, 25(1), 142-144.
  • Thompson, G. A. (2015). “The Spirit of Collaboration.” In Andy Blunden (ed.) Collaborative Projects: An Interdisciplinary Study. (346-350). Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill.
  • Thompson, G. A. (2014) “Labeling in Interactional Practice: Applying Labeling Theory to Interactions and Interactional Analysis to Labeling.” Symbolic Interaction, 37(4), 458-482.
  • Thompson, G. A. (2014). “A Challenge (?) in the Interest of Dialogic Pedagogy”. In Adam Lefstein and Julia Snell (Ed.) Dialogic Pedagogy.
  • Thompson, G. A. (2014). The Spirit of Collaboration. In Collaborative Projects: An Interdisciplinary Study by Andy Blunden.
  • Thompson, G. A. (2014). “Beyond epistemology: Qualitative research and the constitution of forms of life.” Review of The Science of Qualitative Research by Martin Packer. For the journal Theory and Psychology.
  • Stone, L., and Thompson, G. A. (2014) “The Dance of Stance: The Role of Epistemic and Affective Stance-taking in Building a Classroom Mood.” Learning, Culture, and Social Interaction, 3(4), 309-322.
  • Thompson, G. A. and Gonen Dori-Hacohen (2012). “Framing Selves in Interactional Practice.” Electronic Journal of Communication special issue on Communication as Social Construction. 22(3/4). Published in French as: “Le Cadrage Personnel dans la Pratique Interactionnelle.”

Read more in Chapter 15
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