Performativity

Performativity

Performativity is the capacity of language to bring about transformative effects in the world.

With performativity, it goes beyond mere description, as language can operate as a means of social action, influencing and shaping the reality it articulates. Performativity, a concept elucidated by the philosopher John L. Austin, represents the capacity of language to enact changes in the world. It transcends the mere description of reality and serves as a form of social action. Austin distinguished between constative language, which conveys information about the world and can be assessed as either true or false, and performative language, which has the power to actively shape the world.

In Austin's framework, performative language encompasses speech acts such as making promises, taking oaths, placing bets, and conducting marriage ceremonies. For example, the utterance ‘I do’, when spoken by the right individuals in the appropriate context with the intended significance, has the transformative ability to change one's marital status from unmarried to married.

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