Interpretive repertoires as mirrors on society and as tools for action: Reflections on zeyer and Roth's a mirror of society

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I respond to Zeyer and Roth's (Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2009) paper on their use of interpretive repertoire analysis to explicate Swiss middle school students' dialogic responses to environmental issues. I focus on the strategy of interpretive repertoire analysis, making sense of the stance Zeyer and Roth take with this analysis by synthesizing their argument and comparing their analysis with other researchers that have also used this analytic tool. Interpretive repertoires are discourse resources, including mores, tropes, and metaphors that can be evoked by speakers in support of a tenuous claim. So interpretive repertoires have rhetorical character and function. Interpretive repertoire analysis requires looking for patterns in the contradictions in the speech of a collective of participants that can be codified as interpretive repertoires. Interpretive repertoires provide insight into macro-structures that frame, and are used to justify participants' behavior. My response to Zeyer and Roth's argument might also be thought to be contradictory but I think defensible. In this paper, I outline why I am excited by the possibilities I can image for this type of analysis in areas of science education research. However, I also felt the need to identify possible limitations of Zeyer and Roth's exclusive focus on environmental issues to the neglect of other issues, such as those associated with gender, embedded in participants' discourse. I argue that a critical and historical focus, in conjunction with interpretive repertoire analysis, offer a rich strategy for analysis in science education research, especially in the study of macrostructures, such as gender, race, identity and power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1022
Number of pages10
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Critical theory
  • Discourse analysis
  • Interpretive repertoires
  • Science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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