Language and Social Class


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Language and Social Class

  1. 1. Education<br />&<br />Bernstein<br />1<br />Language and Social Class:<br />
  2. 2. This session<br />Clive McGoun: Language, Thought, and Representation<br />2<br />How is the social structure of a discourse community reflected, constructed and perpetrated by the way its members ‘language’ their experience in a style appropriate to the conventions of the group?<br />Can Bernstein help?<br />
  3. 3. Spoken Language<br />3<br />What is the difference between speech and writing?<br />Speech is transient<br />Speech is additive or ‘rhapsodic’<br />Speech is aggregative<br />Speech is redundant or ‘copious’<br />Speech is loosely structured grammatically and lexically sparse<br />Speech tends to be people centred<br />Speech is context dependent<br />
  4. 4. Some features of spoken language<br />4<br />Indexing status<br />‘Why don’t you meet me here tomorrow?’<br />Codes and code-switching – ‘footing’<br />Truly man, let&apos;s make it happen. Yo, that is a number one hit across the world. That&apos;s the real. It is what it is though. It&apos;s real. That&apos;s the way it&apos;s going down, with the Radio One rap show. Never seen &apos;Meth&apos; as good as that. Right that&apos;s the way it&apos;s going. It&apos;s going to be up there. Yeh man, and also, yeh man. People is really feeling that, so that should be real flavour. Okay. Lets keep it real man. Okay, this was the first time I&apos;d seen LL in many years. It was ridiculous. Making it happen.<br />Tim Westwood, the west country vicar’s son<br />
  5. 5. Conversational Style<br />5<br />Different contexts of situation and different contexts of culture call for different conversational styles<br />Different groups will have different conversational styles<br />Those styles will involve differences in the meanings produced by language<br />Those meanings will privilege a particular way of thinking<br />If such a way of thinking allows privileged access to material resources in society those who do not think in this way will be denied such access.<br />This is close to a version of Bernstein’s argument.<br />
  6. 6. Bernstein’s theory of codes (1)<br />6<br />On the relationship between Bernstein’s theory and Whorf’s:<br />It differs [from] … Whorf by asserting that, in the context of a common language in the sense of a general code, there will arise distinct linguistic forms … which induce in their speakers different ways of relating to objects and persons. <br />(Bernstein 1974)<br />What, then, are Bernstein’s codes?<br />
  7. 7. Bernstein’s theory of codes (2)<br />7<br />Code as planning procedure<br />Code as linguistic realisation<br />VP<br />VP<br />VP<br />VP<br />E<br />D<br />E<br />D<br />SS<br />SS<br />NV<br />NV<br />V<br />V<br />b<br />a<br />
  8. 8. Bernstein’s theory of codes (3)<br />8<br />Context<br />I regard code as referring to a socially constituted regulative principle, tacitly acquired, which integrates:<br />The relevant meanings<br />The form of their realisation<br />The evoking contexts<br />(Adlamet al., 1977: ix)<br />
  9. 9. Reference<br />I harked back to his school years, and he confessed that he had never liked school<br />I remember IT very well and particularly my dislike of IT which has never died to this day. And I am now 68<br />‘If he’s not careful John will be out of a job.’<br />‘They’ve scored.’<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Testing the theory<br />10<br />Hypothesis:<br />7 year-old working class children in a structured interview will make more use of situational reference than middle class counterparts.<br />Working class children will tend to use exophoric items.<br />Their language will tend to depend heavily on context and so will realise particularistic meanings.<br />Procedure<br />Picture story<br />
  11. 11. Results<br />11<br />The class differences all move in the predicted direction; among the exophoric categories the working-class speakers consistently produced either more users or more occurrences, usually both, in both tasks of the schedule. The consistency of these results, the high levels of significance, and the implications for the orientation towards different modes of communication, combine to make this a noteworthy finding.<br />(Hawkins, 1977: 93)<br />
  12. 12. Explaining the results<br />12<br />Social relationships determine the linguistic code.<br />Therefore, family relations are fundamental.<br />The socialisation of middle class children differs from that of working class children.<br />Families from different social classes have different attitudes towards and relationships with their children.<br />These differences lead to working class children having access to restricted codes and middle class children having access to both restricted and elaborate codes.<br />
  13. 13. Socialisation<br />13<br />Teaching them everyday tasks – dressing, using knife and fork<br />Helping them to make things<br />Drawing their attention to different shapes<br />Showing them what is right and wrong<br />Letting them know what you are feeling<br />Showing them how things work<br />Helping them to work out things for themselves<br />Disciplining them<br />Dealing with them when they are unhappy<br />Assign each statement on the right to a category below:<br />Statements concerned with skills<br />Statements concerned with interpersonal relationships<br />
  14. 14. Socialisation: results<br />14<br />This is how Bernstein characterised them:<br />Teaching them everyday tasks – dressing, using knife and fork = skill<br />Helping them to make things = skill<br />Drawing their attention to different shapes = skill<br />Showing them what is right and wrong = person<br />Letting them know what you are feeling = person<br />Showing them how things work = skill<br />Helping them to work out things for themselves = person<br />Disciplining them = person<br />Dealing with them when they are unhappy = person<br />
  15. 15. Results<br />15<br />The middle class mother take greater care to make the whole of the inter-person area verbally explicit for her child, much more than the working class mother.<br />
  16. 16. Conclusion<br />16<br />Different social-class practices in socialisation lead to social-class differences in language use.<br />These social class differences in code within the same language do affect behaviour<br />Language is affected by social structures.<br /><ul><li>We have moved from the linguistic determinism of Whorf to a social determinism where social relationships determine the language used.</li>