Language, Society and Power : An Introduction book cover
6th Edition

Language, Society and Power
An Introduction

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 6, 2023
ISBN 9780367638443
March 6, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Language, Society and Power provides an accessible introduction to the study of language in a variety of social contexts. This book examines the ways language functions, how it influences the way we view society and how it varies according to age, ethnicity, class and gender. Readers are encouraged to consider whether representations of people and their language matter, explore how identity is constructed and performed, and examine the creative potential of language in the media, politics and everyday talk.

With updates and new international examples throughout, the sixth edition of this popular textbook features:

*Thoroughly revised chapters on politics and media to include topics such as environmentalism, the politics of consumer choice, injustice in legal systems and the power of social media in political activism;

*Expanded coverage of ongoing debates around fake news, gender fluidity and representation, and multilingualism;

*Discussions of surveillance in relation to linguistic landscapes;

*Examination of linguistic change due to COVID;

*A companion website which includes streamlined exercises, further reading, a 'who's who' of Twitter, and links to blogs and videos to support learning as students make their way through the book.

Language, Society and Power assumes no linguistic background among readers, and is a must-read for all students of English language and linguistics, media, communication, cultural studies, sociology and psychology who are studying language and society for the first time.

Table of Contents


List of Figures

List of Images

List of Tables

Transcription Conventions

Preface to the Sixth Edition


Chapter 1 Language?

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Why Study Language?

1.3 What Is Language?

1.3.1 Language: a system

1.3.2 Language: a system with variation

1.3.3 The potential to create new meanings

1.4 The ‘Rules’ of Language: Prescription Versus Description

1.5 Power

1.5.1 Ideology

1.6 ‘Political Correctness’

1.7 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 2 Language, thought and representation

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Language as a System of Representation

2.2.1 Different kinds of language

2.2.2 Signs and structure

2.3 Linguistic Diversity

2.3.1 Semantics

2.3.2 Syntax

2.4 The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

2.4.1 Linguistic relativism and determinism

2.4.2 Numbers, things and animals

2.5 One Language, Many Worlds

2.6 A Model for Analysing Language

2.6.1 Lexical Choices

2.6.2 Transitivity

2.7 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 3 Language and politics

3.1 Introduction

3.2 What is ‘Politics’?

3.3 Politics and Ideology

3.4 Three Persuasive Strategies: logos, pathos, ethos

3.5 Biscuits are political?: Introducing Linguistic Tools

3.6 Climate change and political discourse

3.7 Language, Ideology and Metaphor

3.7.1 Student as customer

3.8 Twitter and Political Agency

3.9 Silly Citizenship

3.9.1 Jorts the Cat

3.9.2 ‘K-Pop and TikTok

3.10 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 4 Language and the media

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Mass Media

4.3 The Changing Context

4.3.1 Structure

4.3.2 Who is producing content?

4.4 Manufacture of Consent

4.4.1 Filtering the facts

4.5 News Values

4.5.1 Actors and events

4.6 New News values

4.7 Who is the expert, who is the author?

4.8 Fake News

4.8.1 ‘Fake news’ as delegitimising accusation

4.8.2 Fabricated news reports to misinform

4.8.3 Fabricated news reports to entertain

4.8.4 Comedy news shows

4.9 Summary

Further Reading 139

Chapter 5 Linguistic landscapes

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Defining the Linguistic Landscape

5.2.1 Space and meaning

5.2.2 Different kinds of signs

5.2.3 Top-down and bottom-up as a continuum

5.3 Signs and Multilingualism and Power

5.3.1 Invisible language

5.4 Signs and Ideology

5.5 Transgressive Signs: Graffiti

5.6 Surveillance

5.7 Online Landscapes

5.7.1 Twitter

5.7.2 Instagram

5.7.3 Memes

5.8 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 6 Language and gender

6.1 Introduction

6.2 What is Gender?

6.3 Inequality at the Lexical Level

6.3.1 Marked terms

6.3.2 Semantic derogation

6.3.3 Pronouns

6.4 Differences in Language Use: Doing Being a ‘Woman’ or A ‘Man’

6.4.1 Tag questions

6.5 Gossip

6.5.1 Gossip and men

6.5.2 Features of men’s talk

6.6 Gender and Power

6.6.1 Do women talk more than men?

6.6.2 Gender or power?

6.6.3 Intersectionality

6.7 Gendered Talk: Performing Identity

6.7.1 Mate

6.7.2 Variation

6.8 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 7 Language and ethnicity

7.1 Introduction

7.2 What Do We Mean By ‘Ethnicity’?

7.3 Racism and Representations of Ethnicity

7.3.1 Representations of race

7.3.2 Racism online

7.3.3 Reclaiming terms

7.4 Ethnicity and Language Variation

7.4.1 Ethnolect or repertoire?

7.4.2 African-American Language

7.5 Ethnicity and Identity

7.5.1 Situated ethnicity

7.6 Consequences for ethnolinguistic repertoires

7.6.1 Australian Aboriginal English

7.6.2 Sociolinguistic labour

7.9 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 8 Language and age

8.1 Introduction

8.2 What do We Mean by Age?

8.3 Early Life Stage

8.3.1 Language used to talk to children

8.4 Adolescent Life Stage

8.4.1 What teenagers do?

8.4.2 Multiple negation

8.4.3 ‘Like’ as a discourse marker

8.4.4 Changes to morphology

8.5 Middle Life Stage

8.5.1 Thanks across the generations

8.6 Later Life Stage

8.6.1 Representations of older people

8.6.2 Self-representation of older people

8.6.3 Language used to talk to older people

8.6.4 Learning to use the internet

8.7 The Creep of Ageism

8.7.1 OK Boomer and bla, bla, bla

8.8 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 9 Language, class and symbolic capital

9.1 Introduction

9.2 What is Social Class?

9.3 Attitudes to Class

9.3.1 Social class as other

9.3.2 Representations of social class

9.3.3 Pittsburghese

9.4 Linguistic Variation

9.4.1 New York City

9.4.2 Norwich

9.4.3 Glasgow

9.5 Intersection of Social Class and Other Variables

9.5.1 Social Class and Gender

9.6 Social Networks

9.7 Communities of Practice

9.8 Symbolic Capital

9.9 Revising the British Social Class Model

9.9.1 Power and access to symbolic capital

9.9.2 Capital in the Global South

9.10 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 10 Global Englishes

10.1 Introduction

10.2 What Does Global English Mean?

10.3 Learning English

10.3.1 Two models

10.3.2 ‘Lingua franca core’

10.4 ‘Singlish’

10.5 Indian English

10.6 Linguistic Marketplace

10.6.1 Call centres and English

10.7 Linguistic Imperialism

10.8 What do Language Varieties Mean in the Global Context?

10.8.1 Language Repertoires

10.8.2 Discourse in advertising and linguistic landscapes

10.9 Summary

Further Reading

Chapter 11 Projects

11.1 Introduction

11.2 Things to Bear in Mind with Data Collection

11.2.1 What is data?

11.2.2 Transcribing

11.2.3 Data analysis

11.3 Projects

Project 1 – mini dictionary

Project 2 – political texts

Project 3 – your own many voices

Project 4 – conversational politics

Project 5 – expertise in the media

Project 6 – representation of gender

Project 7 – titles around the world

Project 8 – identity

Project 9 – digital detox

Project 10 – little bits of data

Project 11 – children’s television

Project 12 – computer-mediated communication (CMC)

Project 13 – linguistic landscapes

Project 14 – political agency

11.4 Research Resources

11.4.1 Where to find published research

11.4.2 Other resources

Further Reading

Works Cited


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Annabelle Mooney is Emerita Professor of Language and Society at the University of Roehampton, UK.

Betsy Evans is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington, USA.


"This edition of Language, Society and Power is up to date with current developments in society that impact issues of power and ideology. It involves the reader – tutors and students alike – in an analysis of these developments, sucks them in to explore their in-ward understanding of language issues." – Ayo Amuda, University of South Wales, UK

"Language, Society and Power contains a balanced and very accessible coverage of the core concepts of sociolinguistics, illustrated through carefully chosen and meticulously discussed data. It is a must for students and everyone interested in understanding and analysing how we use language in our societies." – Irene Theodoropoulou, Qatar University