Language and Power in the Modern World

Language and Power in the Modern World

Mary Talbot
Karen Atkinson
David Atkinson
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Language and Power in the Modern World
    Book Description:

    This book explores key areas of modern society in which language is used to form power and social relations. These are presented in five sections:Language and the MediaLanguage and OrganisationsLanguage and GenderLanguage and YouthMultilingualism, Identity and EthnicityWith a unique combination of selected readings and student-centred tasks in a single volume, the book covers contemporary issues in language and power, ranging from the global to the interpersonal. Each area - and each reading chosen to explore it - is substantially contextualised and discussed through a detailed introduction and then followed up with related activities.Each section comprises:*a substantial, specific introduction which draws students’ attention to key themes and issues relevant to its topic; *a set of four or five selected readings which encourages students to locate critically these issues in context; *a task, or set of tasks, obliging students to undertake ‘hands-on’ linguistic analysis of data and engage in more sophisticated discussion of pertinent issues.*In-depth exploration of a variety of approaches to the study of language and power*Unique combination of advanced readings, student-centred tasks and editorial guidance*Hands-on activities at the end of each chapter

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7938-6
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-v)
    (pp. vi-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-8)

    This book is about language and power. But what is power? How should we go about studying it in relation to language? And for that matter, why? These are not easy questions to answer. Our aim in writing this book is to get you thinking about them, and to get you thinking about the way power ‘works’ in the linguistic practices that people engage in. Power in language is certainly not just about what we might initially think of as ‘powerful language’ (drowning out the voices of others by shouting a lot, for instance). Consider the claim that:

    power is...

    (pp. 9-71)

    This chapter considers the extent to which verbal interaction through the mass media differs from other kinds, such as the face-to-face interaction of individuals, and its consequences in terms of power relations. It examines the power of the media in its assertions of shared values and opinions and works through how such constructions of ‘common sense’ can be critically investigated, drawing for examples on work on racist discourse in the press. It then takes up issues specific to the mediated talk of television and radio, attending to the structuring of ‘live’ talk and to mediatised political language. This involves a...

    (pp. 72-135)

    This chapter explores the relationship between organisational discourse practices, power and resistance. It is concerned with the ways in which language is used to create and shape an organisation, to carve out an internal structure with circumscribed roles, responsibilities and rights for its different members, and for others with whom they interact. Covering institutional documentation, work discussions and routine talk, it also explores the discursive patterns of control and challenge as struggles for identity occur. We are interested in what has been defined as ‘institutional language’ (Thornborrow 2002; Drew and Heritage 1992) – talk that has pre-inscribed participant roles; is...

    (pp. 136-199)

    In this section the focus is on patriarchal power. It attends to how patriarchal power relations are maintained in and through language. To begin, it examines the well-known claim that men and women tend to use interactional styles based on power and solidarity respectively. The section then goes on to maintain that, in order to explore patterns of male dominance effectively, we need to go beyond this polarised view and attend to discourses and practices in specific situations, institutions and genres which may establish men in positions from which they can dominate women. Studies of the dynamics of dinner-table talk...

    (pp. 200-255)

    In advocating a change of direction for research on youth, Angela McRobbie (1994: 186) asks ‘what are the discourses within which “different, youthful, subjectivities” are constructed? How are they expressed?’ In exploring language, power and young people, this chapter maps some of the discursive constructions of self that articulate youth identities in everyday modern life. It examines the ways in which language is taken up and used as resistance to mainstream norms and values. It looks at the sorts of discourse practices drawn upon to constitute, shape and signal membership of particular youth cultures. And, as contemporary social change demands...

    (pp. 256-315)

    The world is frequently portrayed as an increasingly uniform place from the point of view of the number of languages used on our planet, not least by some of the media in Western countries where English is the dominant language. Despite this portrayal, however, its population continues to use a huge, if diminishing, variety of languages – most estimates are of around 6,000 living languages (a figure inevitably highly dependent on the definition of ‘a language’ used – see, for example, Crystal 1997: Chapter 47, for a discussion). Nevertheless, whatever the real figure, languages are certainly disappearing all the time...

    (pp. 316-324)
    (pp. 325-325)
    (pp. 326-336)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 337-342)