And She Be like ‘Tenemos Frijoles en la Casa’ : Code-Switching and Identity Construction on YouTube

This empirical case study explores the (co-)construction and negotiation of identities through code-switching (CS) as found on the video-sharing platform YouTube, disentangling the complexities of social practice anchored in a discursive online environment. Drawing on a YouTube comment corpus and paying special attention to the socio-technical affordances of the platform, the study examines users’ positioning practices and metapragmatic replies in response to a culturally themed video priming discussion about LatinX family stereotypes. More specifically, it analyses how users discursively position themselves vis-à-vis the video and which linguistic strategies they exploit to (co-)construct and negotiate their cultural identity. Focusing on interrelated positioning devices such as code-choice, identity labels and quoting, this contribution proposes a multi-level model of analysis to account for the dynamic interplay between CS practices and identity construction in a heterogeneous online space. Following a social-constructivist approach to identity, CS is shown to reinforce in-group solidarity rooted in the shared experience and discussion of LatinX culture and provides evidence of a sense of togetherness in an emerging community of practice.


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