Negotiating conflict within the constraints of social hierarchies in Korean American discourse

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


This paper provides an interactional account of conflict negotiation strategies in Korean American discourse. With specific attention to the sociolinguistic phenomenon of codeswitching among Korean Americans, I argue that speaking Korean at particular moments evokes ideologies of social hierarchy that serve to mitigate potential conflicts. The Korean social ideology of relative status has a major influence on how bilingual Korean Americans interact with one another, regardless of whether they are using Korean or English. The use of codeswitching, among other mitigating strategies in discourse, serves to instantiate these hierarchical relationships and introduces particular social norms that guide the observable actions used in navigating meaning and social relations. The data analyzed here show how the evocation of Korean social ideologies may serve as an identifiable characteristic of Korean American discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-320
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • Conflict; codeswitching; Korean American discourse; social hierarchy; kinship terms; interactional sociolinguistics

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