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Language, structure and agency : what can realist social theory offer to sociolinguistics?

Carter, Bob and Sealey, Alison (2000) Language, structure and agency : what can realist social theory offer to sociolinguistics? Journal of Sociolinguistics, 4 (1). pp. 3-20. ISSN 1360-6441

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Abstract

The sociolinguistic enterprise raises fundamental questions about the nature of the relationships between social phenomena (such as social class or gender) and linguistic variation, while within social theory a persistent concern is the nature of the relationship between structure and agency. Sociolinguistics can draw on social theory for analysis of the relationship between speaker and system, the role of language in the creation, maintenance and change of social institutions, and the role of human agency in sociolinguistic phenomena. This article summarises the key tenets of a sociological realism, based on the recent work of Margaret Archer (in particular her exploration of analytical dualism) and of Derek Layder (specifically his theory of 'social domains'). It relates these ideas to sociolinguistics, arguing that language can be seen to have a different significance, depending on which domain is the focus of the researcher's interest. The article considers the distinctiveness of this approach, contrasting it with structuralist and social constructionist accounts and with structuration. It concludes by identifying some methodological implications, suggesting that sociological realism offers a productive theoretical framework for sociolinguistics in dealing with questions of language, structure and agency. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Sociolinguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords: structuration ; constructionism ; SOCIAL constructionism ; Realism ; LANGUAGE & culture ; STRUCTURATION theory (Communication) ; agency ; SOCIAL theory ; SOCIOLINGUISTICS ; structure ; p00476
Subjects:
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 71219
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 13 Oct 2014 13:43
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2017 18:32
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/71219

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