Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Social Reasoning Strategy Families > Stance Taking

Stance-taking strategies are strategies for controlling the social impression created by one's texts or other communicative acts. As such, they support the ability to control voice and toneand enable the writer to make decisions about content and style that are informed by the impression that the writer wants to make on the audience. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 5.

Stance-taking strategies can be wholly unconscious, reflecting the specific persona that a writer naturally projects, but at higher levels of skill, the development of skills for reading between the lines creates a conscious awareness of the ways in which the details of the text inform the reader's perception of the author. This awareness, in turn, supports strategies for manipulating how the author is perceived by consciously selecting specific styles, words, arguments, or other elements of the text, and is therefore relevant to Reading Standard 6.

By its very nature, stance-taking depends upon the specific mode of interaction (oral, face-to-face, print on paper, online on a computer screen), and it is intrinsically bound up with the specific practices by which people present themselves to one another as part of the collaborative practices of literacy. As a result, stance taking presupposes, though going well beyond them, the kinds of abilities mentioned in Writing Standard 6 (which focuses on the use of technology to collaborate and interact with others and is at a most fundamental level a matter of print skills).

Literature Note - Voice, Tone, and Stance

Development Table 5. Hypotheses about Development of Stance-Taking Skills
Preliminary (oral)
Can read a text and extract a general impression of the persona of its narrator or commentator, or of embedded characters, and identify their purposes.
Can apply register-shifting strategies in which one adopts the register most appropriate to social role and purpose of a particular persona.
Can imitate the characteristic speech patterns and style displayed by another person.
Foundational(fundamental literacies)
Can identify specific words and phrases in a text that directly support the social impressions that it creates.
Can apply style-shifting strategies in which one modifies syntactic and lexical choices to create a desired tone.
Can write in a consistent style while avoiding linguistic choices incompatible with that style.
Basic(text-based literacy)
Can identify subjective, stance-taking elements in a text that indicate attitudes (on the part of the author or a persona adopted by the narrator) toward the subject matter being addressed.
Can apply perspective-shifting strategies in which one adopts a desired persona that defines the perspective from which the text is written.
Can write in a generally consistent voice reflecting a consistent persona, attitude, and perspective.
Intermediate(multiple perspectives)
Can identify slanting and other attempts to manipulate the reader by manipulating features of style, tone, and voice.
Can apply slanting strategies that exercise fine control over register, tone, and voice in order to achieve specific effects on the audience.
Can write from a generally consistent stance while avoiding linguistic choices that would undermine the intended effect.
Advanced(discourse communities)
Can identify and recognize the impact of symbols, catch phrases, and other elements drawn from a larger discourse.
Can apply symbol manipulation strategies that use images, catch phrases, or other elements drawn from a larger discourse in order to trigger stock emotional and social responses.
Can consistently adopt the stance, voice, style, and tone consistent with particular roles in a wide range of specific discourses.

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