Language and social relations

Authored by: Zi Wang

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415790277
eBook ISBN: 9781315213378
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter offers a critical appraisal of the scholarship developments across various periods and strands of (socio)linguistic research on the Japanese language and its “social life”, focusing on different aspects of language use and the bringing into existence of diverse types of social relations. I begin by iterating the pervasiveness of linguistic constitution of social relations in the Japanese language. Then, I discuss modern origins of Japanese sociolinguistics research and identify its different research foci which brought about the connection between language use and the construction of social identities and relations. In the process, I show the dominant research approaches and methodologies in the Japanese sociolinguistics scene, the emergence of ethnomethodology and discourse analysis in western literature and their inroad into Japanese sociolinguistics. Finally, I propose that future research on language and social relations in Japan consider incorporating theoretical and methodological aspects of social constructionism, ethnomethodology and discourse analysis to demonstrate that a much wider perspective could be adopted than hitherto has been the case in Japanese sociolinguistics. I also urge organizational improvements on the part of universities and research institutes to both broaden and deepen their research and training collaborations so as to create more conducive environments in which junior researchers in this domain could thrive.

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