From out-group to in-group: Exercising agency for gaining membership through statement of purposes writing

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Drawing upon the temporal notion of agency from both sociocultural and ecological perspectives, this study reports a cross-case analysis of narratives conducted to examine how three L2 writers exercised agency for identity construction to gain membership of their target Master's degree programs through statement of purposes (SOP) writing. It is found that the students' perceptions of SOP writing, self-identities and the available affordances rendered them capable of making choices about how to handle their writing, taking deliberate actions in the writing process, and producing desired outcomes, which in turn helped them generate new perceptions. Findings suggest that L2 writers' language improvement will ensue as a bonus when they are treated as agents seeking opportunities for personal development rather than as mere language learners.

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