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ET323: Language, Society and Power


This module encourages you to think about the definitions of ‘language’, ‘society’ and ‘power.’ It introduces you to liberal and conservative approaches to power; who has power, how to gain it and how it is lost. We consider theories of sociolinguistics which make links between language and powerful and powerless groups and individuals. There will be opportunities to specialise in an area of your own interest as we cover disability rights, sex and gender, social class and region in our analyses of power as it is distributed across societies and as this is manifested and contested through language. You will learn how to apply Critical Discourse theory, multimodal analysis, conversation analysis and qualitative sociolinguistic methods to real world language data which you will gather yourselves.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Describe the levels of any linguistic system and how they might encode power structures.
  • Discuss the relationship between speakers and their language systems.
  • Discuss competing theoretical perspectives on the concepts of “community”and “power.”

Academic Staff

Matthew Voice