Social class, social capital, social practice and language in British sociolinguistics: unravelling historical and ethnographic complexities

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Social class has recently re-emerged strongly within academic sociology in the UK, and I argue in this paper that sociolinguists benefit from an awareness of these currents in our work with speakers and communities in the UK setting. The discussion will elaborate on the approaches to social class analysis and coding that I and others have pursued in studies of variation and change in several contexts, including the study of the elite/establishment sociolect commonly known as RP. Changing socio-economic and political circumstances as well as the changing nature of ‘class’ as an enregistered ideological construct within British society all have ramifications for the resonance of social class in sociolinguistics and real-time corpus work. I will look at several research traditions of social class analysis and examine their potential contributions to sociolinguistic research. The importance of fine-grained historical and ethnographic understanding will be a recurring theme.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDimensions of Linguistic Variation
EditorsChristopher Cieri, Malcah Yaeger-Dror, Katie Drager
Number of pages39
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020

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