Authored by: Stef Slembrouck , Mieke Vandenbroucke

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reviews the development of the concept of scale, as a spatial and hierarchical concept, and its usefulness in linguistic ethnography, particularly in attending to the multiple levels of analysis which are relevant for any given local interaction. Drawing on examples from ethnographic research, it argues that contemporary processes of globalisation call for a re-thinking and heightened awareness of the concept of scale in research and in society. The chapter argues that traditional hierarchically ordered notions of scale have been disrupted by globalisation and networked communications, which enable local events to be rapidly re-scaled to a national or international level. There is therefore an urgent need to explore processes of scaling. It highlights, on the one hand, contemporary processes of time-space compression where technologies compress time and collapse distance, and, on the other, the irreducible here-and-now scale of the interacting body. The implications of adopting a scalar perspective for linguistic ethnographic research are explored, illustrated with reference to an ethnographic project on marriage fraud investigation in Belgium that demonstrates the multi-scalar nature of local discursive practice.

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