Anything but Trivial: Trans-Contextual Identification and Control Among Participants in the World's Largest Trivia Contest
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With this research project, I endeavored to better understand the relationship that exists between identification, context, and control within communities of practice in which members identify with particular salience. Through an application of a discursive approach to the study of identification, I sought to explain how individuals engage in conscious and unconscious identity work both within and beyond the situated context of their community identities. In this way, I extended the prevailing theorizing about context and identity by acknowledging the ways our particularly salient identities can shape our various social contexts. Furthermore, I applied a critical lens in order to better understand how mechanisms of concertive control and identity regulation can also extend beyond the situated context of one’s identity. In pursuit of this project, I conducted an ethnographic investigation of a community of trivia players who participate in the annual World’s Largest Trivia Contest. As a result of this investigation, I identified knowledge and competition as two predominate identity discourses in circulation within the trivia community. I was able to observe how the enactment and negotiation of these identity discourses occurred both within and beyond the situated context of the World’s Largest Trivia Contest environment, demonstrating the trans-contextual nature of members’ identification. Furthermore, I was able to identify how these identity discourses serve to restrain and motivate particular behaviors among participants both within and beyond the situated context of the community, demonstrating a trans-contextual system of control.
Communities of Practice
Ormes, Gregory F. (2015). Anything but Trivial: Trans-Contextual Identification and Control Among Participants in the World's Largest Trivia Contest. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from