Bakhtin Applied: Employing Dialogism to Analyze the Interplay of the Ideologies of Individualism and Community Within the Discourse of Alcoholics Anonymous
An ongoing debate regarding the nature of therapeutic communities concerns the extent to which these communities reinforce the ideologies of individualism and community. This article engages this discussion through a process of social text analysis informed by the dialogism theory of Russian philosopher and literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin. Dialogism seeks to understand the multiple voices interpenetrating particular utterances, revealing an emergent social construction of meaning. Applying this approach to examples of discourse from a prominent therapeutic community, Alcoholics Anonymous, illustrates how meaning in the discourse of this movement can be understood to emerge among the interplay between the ideologies of individualism and community as expressed within the movement's narrative practice.