Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 3, No 2 (2009)

Revisiting the Need for New Approaches to Social Class in Variationist Sociolinguistics

Christine Mallinson, Robin Dodsworth
Issued Date: 1 Feb 2010

Abstract


To better account for patterns in language variation by social class and to conceptualise and analyse social class in new and refined ways, many sociolinguists have recommended looking to theoretical and methodological advancements in sociology and anthropology. We review a contemporary sociological approach to social class, formulated by Joan Acker (2000, 2006), and apply it to the study of linguistic variation in two U.S. communities. While Acker’s framework may advance sociolinguists’ understanding of the complexities of social class, the advantages of Acker’s model do not, as yet, clearly and readily translate to variationist sociolinguistics. We conclude that social class frameworks from sociology or other fields may require some calibrating to the goal of variationist sociolinguistics, which is not the study of social class itself, but rather the dynamics of language variation and change, of which social class plays an integral part.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v3i2.253

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