[lg policy] Power and Sociolinguistics

Rodney Hopson hopson at DUQ.EDU
Thu Apr 14 19:37:35 UTC 2011

Thanks, Gareth, for your note.  I too have been bridging ways of examining
and theorizing power from a sociolinguistic perspective, especially in
thinking about comparative language policy and planning efforts.  For that,
there is plenty to draw on, especially those that espouse the historical
structural approach.  I won’t go into detail with too many references, but
here are a few (certainly not exhaustive and without appearing


Hopson, R. K. (2005). Paradox of English- only in post- independent Namibia:
Toward whose

education for all? In B. Brock- Utne & R. K. Hopson. (eds), Languages of
instruction for

African emancipation: Focus on postcolonial contexts and considerations (pp.
89–118). Cape

Town/Dar es Salaam: Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society/Mkuki na


McCarty, T. L. (2004). Dangerous difference: A critical- historical analysis
of language education

policies in the United States. In J.W. Tollefson & A.B.M. Tsui (eds), Medium

instruction policies: Which agenda? Whose agenda? (pp. 71–93) Mahwah, NJ:



Ricento, T. (2000). Ideology, politics, and language policies: Focus on
English. Philadelphia,

PA: John Benjamins.


Tollefson, J. W. (1991). Planning language, planning inequality: Language
policy in the community.

New York, NY: Longman.


Tollefson, J. W. (ed.) (2002). Language policies in education: Critical
issues. Mahwah, NJ:

Lawrence Erlbaum.


Tollefson, J. W. (2006). Critical theory in language policy. In T. Ricento
(ed.), An introduction

to language policy: Theory and method (pp. 42–59). Malden, MA: Blackwell.


Wiley, T.G. (1999). Comparative historical analysis of US language policy
and language

planning: Extending the foundations. In T. Huebner & K. Davis (eds),
Sociopolitical perspectives

on language policy and planning in the USA (pp. 17–37). Philadelphia, PA:



Then again, there are others who explore power in language ideologies who
may or may not call out HSA particularly, such as:


Canagarajah, A. S. (ed.) (2005). Reclaiming the local in language policy and

Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Hill, J. H. (2001). The racializing function of language panics. In R. D.
González & I. Melis

(eds), Language ideologies: Critical perspectives on the Official English
movement (pp.

245–267). Urbana, IL and Mahwah, NJ: National Council of Teachers of English

Lawrence Erlbaum.


Schieffelin, B., Woolard, K. A., & Kroskrity, P. V. (eds) (1998). Language
ideologies: Practice

and theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


Hope this helps keep the discussion going.




From: lgpolicy-list-bounces+hopson=duq.edu at groups.sas.upenn.edu
[mailto:lgpolicy-list-bounces+hopson=duq.edu at groups.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf
Of Gareth Price
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 10:34 AM
To: lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
Subject: [lg policy] Power and Sociolinguistics


Dear All,

I've always found Pennycook (2001, esp. chs. 3 & 4) to be a really good (and
somewhat rare) discussion of the concept of power from a (socio)linguistic
perspective. It deals with aspects of critical theory and how these concepts
can be deployed in studying language education and sociolinguistics. It
probably won't magically resolve our current dilemma about the
minority/majority distinction, but it might be a helpful starting point.

I'm a self-described a political sociologist of language or political
sociolinguist who did my PhD jointly-supervised in the Ling Dept. and
Sociology Dept. at Essex (as did Dave Sayers). I've found it extremely
frustrating over the years that, as Christina says, sociolinguists haven't
really been concerned with theorising power, and those political
sociologists who do theorise power almost always neglect language. And it's
not just the paucity of published material - it's actually the lack of
dialogue between scholars in the two disciplines. It felt like I spent most
of my time trying to get people from the two departments to sit down and see
what they had in common!

Pennycook, Alastair (2001). Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical
Introduction. (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum)


Gareth Price
Visiting Assistant Professor
Linguistics Program
Duke University 
316 Languages Building, Box 90259 
Durham, NC 27708-0259

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