English and social identity

Authored by: Esther Asprey , Robert Lawson

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reviews the history of identity in linguistics, starting from work on group and individual identity, through to the application of intergroup theory, social network theory, and the implications of Communities of Practice theory in explaining sociolinguistic variation among smaller self defining groups of speakers. Tracking the shift in theoretical focus from macro identities to micro identities, the chapter then examines recent developments in language and identity research, including the concept of stance and moment to moment orientations of the self to events and speakers. The chapter also discusses how technology enables instantiations of identity performance and examines the multimodal affordances of technology in allowing speakers to shape their own identity, outlining recent work on embodied sociolinguistics and how this has been integrated into analyses of identity. The concluding section of the chapter pans out to examine theories of linguistic landscapes as reflections of identity and to issues of wider global concern, including gender rights and identity and the creation and maintenance of national and transnational identities.

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