Ethnography, discourse, and hegemony
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


Focusing on issues of class identity, this paper explores the relationship between sociolinguistics and Raymond Williams’ view of hegemony as “relations of domination and subordination… [that saturate] the whole process of living…: Our senses and assignments of energy, our shaping perceptions of ourselves and our world” (1977: 109-110). It assesses the kinds of insight afforded in both variationist and interactional sociolinguistics, and then turns to an analysis of London adolescents putting on exaggerated ‘posh’ and ‘Cockney’ accents in situated interaction. Underpinning the contingencies of particular instances, there was a set of well-established dualisms shaped in relations of class inequality (high vs low, mind vs body, reason vs emotion), and the resonance and reach of these was attested both in corporeal performance and in the fantastical grotesque. Can theories of interactional ‘identity projection’ do justice to this, or can sociolinguistics accommodate the cultural analyst’s wider concern for ‘subjectivity’? The paper looks at ways of drawing these perspectives together, and concludes with an emphatic rejection of claims that in late modernity, class identities are losing their significance.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abercrombie, N. , A. Warde , R. Deem , S. Penna , K. Soothill , J. Urry , A. Sayer , and S. Walby
    (2000) Contemporary British Society. 3rd Edition. Oxford: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Antaki, C
    (1998) Identity ascriptions in their time and place: ‘Fagin’ and ‘the terminally dim’. In Antaki and Widdicombe (eds.), pp. 71-86.
  3. Antaki, C. and S. Widdicombe
    (1998) Identity as an achievement and as a tool. In Antaki and Widdicombe (eds.), pp. 1-14.
  4. Antaki and Widdicombe
    (eds.) (1998) Identities in Talk. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Back, L
    (1996) New Ethnicities and Urban Culture. London: UCL Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bakhtin, M
    (1968) Rabelais and his World. Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T. Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination. Austin: Texas University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. (1984) Problems in Dostoevsky's Poetics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Bauman, R
    [1975] (2001) Verbal art as performance. In A. Duranti (ed.), Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 165-188.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Bauman, R. , and C. Briggs
    (1990) Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology19: 59-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev.an.19.100190.000423
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.19.100190.000423 [Google Scholar]
  11. Bell, A
    (1984) Language style as audience design. Language in Society 13.2: 145-204. doi: 10.1017/S004740450001037X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450001037X [Google Scholar]
  12. Billig, M
    (1999) Freudian Repression. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Bloch, M
    (1998) How We Think They Think: Anthropological Approaches to Cognition, Memory, and Literacy. Colorado: Westview Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Blom, J.P. , and J. Gumperz
    (1972) Social meaning in linguistic structure: Codeswitching in Norway. In J. Gumperz & D. Hymes (eds.), Directions in Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 407-34.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Bourdieu, P
    (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511812507
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511812507 [Google Scholar]
  16. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. Oxford: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Bradley, H
    (1996) Fractures identities: Changing patterns of inequality. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Brah, A
    (1996) Cartographies of Diaspora. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Cameron, D
    (1992) Demythologising sociolinguistics: Why language does not reflect society. In J. Joseph  & T. Taylor (eds.), Ideologies of Language. London: Routledge, pp. 79-96.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Clark, J.T
    (2003) Abstract inquiry and the patrolling of black/white borders through linguistic stylisation. In R. Harris & B. Rampton (eds.), Language, Ethnicity and Race: A Reader. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Cohen, P
    (1988) The perversions of inheritance: Studies in the making of multi-racist Britain. Multi-Racist Britain. P. Cohen , H. Bains , S. Basingstoke , Macmillan, pp. 9-120.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Comaroff, J.L. , and J. Comaroff
    (1992) Ethnography and the Historical Imagination. Colorado: Westview Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Coupland, N
    (1995) Pronunciation and the rich points of culture. In J. Windsor-Lewis (ed.), Studies in English and General Phonetics: In Honour of J.D. O’Connor. London: Routledge, pp. 310-319.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. (2001a) Dialect stylisation in radio talk. Language in Society 30.3: 345-376.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. (2001b) Introduction: Sociolinguistic theory and social theory. In N. Coupland , et al . (eds.), pp. Sociolinguistics and Social Theory,1-26.
  26. (2001c) Age in social and sociolinguistic theory. In N. Coupland , et al . (eds.), pp. Sociolinguistics and Social Theory,185-211.
  27. Coupland, N. , S. Sarangi , and C. Candlin
    (eds.) (2001) Sociolinguistics and Social Theory. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Crowley, T
    (1989) The Politics of Discourse. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Cruttenden, A
    (1986) Intonation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Downes, W
    (2000) The language of felt experience: Emotional, evaluative, intuitive. Language and Literature. 9.2: 99-121. doi: 10.1177/096394700000900201
    https://doi.org/10.1177/096394700000900201 [Google Scholar]
  31. Drew, D
    (1987) Po-faced receipts of teases. Linguistics25: 219-253. doi: 10.1515/ling.1987.25.1.219
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1987.25.1.219 [Google Scholar]
  32. Eagleton, T
    (1984) The Function of Criticism. London: Verso.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Eckert, P
    (2000) Linguistic Variation as Social Practice. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Finnegan, R
    (2001) ‘Not the message’: Media, meanings and magicality. In H. Knoblauch & H. Kotthoff (eds.), Verbal Art across Cultures. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, pp. 33-62.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Foley, D
    (1990) Learning Capitalist Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Gal, S
    (1989) Language and political economy. Annual Review of Anthropology. 18: 345-367. doi: 10.1146/annurev.an.18.100189.002021
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.18.100189.002021 [Google Scholar]
  37. [1991] (2001) Language, gender and power: An anthropological review. In A. Duranti (ed.), Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 420-430.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Garrett, P. , N. Coupland , A. Williams
    and (1999) Evaluating dialect in discourse: Teachers' and teenagers' responses to young English speakers in Wales. Language in Society28.3: 321-354. doi: 10.1017/S0047404599003012
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0047404599003012 [Google Scholar]
  39. Giles, H. , and P. Powesland
    (1975) Speech Style and Social Evaluation. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Giles, H. , and E. Ryan
    (1982) Prolegomena for developing a social psychological theory of language attitudes. In E.B. Ryan , & H. Giles (eds.), Attitudes to Language Variation. London: Edward Arnold, pp. 208-223.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Gilroy, P
    (1987) There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack. London: Hutchinson.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Goodwin, M. , and C. Goodwin
    [2000] (2001) Emotion within situated activity. In A. Duranti (ed.), Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 239-257.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Goffman, E
    (1974) Frame Analysis. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. (1981) Forms of Talk. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Gumperz, J
    (1982) Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511611834
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611834 [Google Scholar]
  46. Hanks, W
    (1996) Language and Communicative Practice. Colorado: Westview Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Harris, R. , and B. Rampton
    (2002) Creole metaphors in cultural analysis: On the limits and possibilities of (socio-)linguistics. Critique of Anthropology22.1: 31-51. doi: 10.1177/0308275X020220010101
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0308275X020220010101 [Google Scholar]
  48. Hey, V
    (1997) Northern accent and Southern comfort: Subjectivity and social class. In P. Mahony & C. C. Zmroczek (eds.), Class Matters:‘Working Class’ Women’s Perspectives on Social Class. London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 140-51.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Holland, D. , D. Skinner , W. Lachicotte , and C. Cain
    (1998) Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Hudson, R.A
    (1996) Sociolinguistics: Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Hutchins, E
    (1993) Learning to navigate. Understanding Practice. S. Chaiklin , J. Lave . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 35-63. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511625510.003
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511625510.003 [Google Scholar]
  52. Hymes, D
    (1996) Ethnography, Linguistics, Narrative Inequality. London: Taylor & Francis.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Irvine, J
    (2001) ‘Style’ as distinctiveness: The culture and ideology of linguistic differentiation. In P. Eckert & J. Rickford (eds.), Style and Sociolinguistic Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 21-43.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Johnstone, B
    (1999) Uses of Southern-sounding speech by contemporary Texas women. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3.4: 505-522. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00093
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00093 [Google Scholar]
  55. Knoblauch, H. , and H. Kotthoff
    (2001) The aesthetics and proto-aesthetics of communication. In H. Knoblauch & H. Kotthoff (eds.), Verbal Art across Cultures. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, pp. 7-32.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Labov, W
    (1972) Sociolinguistic Patterns. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Lambert, W
    (1972) A social psychology of bilingualism. Sociolinguistics. J. Pride , J. Holmes . Harmondsworth: Penguin, pp. 336-349.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. LePage, R , and A. Tabouret-Keller
    (1985) Acts of Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Levinson, S
    (1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Lippi-Green, R
    (1997) English With An Accent. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. McDermott, R. , K. Gospodinoff , and J. Aron
    (1978) Criteria for an ethnographically adequate description of concerted activities and their contexts. Semiotica24.3/4: 245-275.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Milroy, L
    (1980) Language and Social Networks. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Milroy, J
    (1992) Linguistic Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Milroy, L , and J. Milroy
    (1992) Social network and social class: Toward an integrated sociolinguistic model. Language in Society21.1: 1-26. doi: 10.1017/S0047404500015013
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500015013 [Google Scholar]
  65. Moerman, M
    (1988) Talking Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. doi: 10.9783/9780812200355
    https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812200355 [Google Scholar]
  66. Mugglestone, L
    (1995) Talking Proper. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Ortner, S
    (1991) Reading America: Preliminary notes on class and culture. In R. Fox (ed.), Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, pp. 164-189.
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Rampton, B
    (1995) Crossing: Language and Ethnicity among Adolescents. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. (1995b) Language crossing and the problematisation of ethnicity and socialisation. Pragmatics 5.4: 485-514.
    [Google Scholar]
  70. (1998) Language crossing and the redefinition of reality. In P. Auer (ed.), Codeswitching in Conversation. London: Routledge, pp. 290-317.
    [Google Scholar]
  71. (1999a) Crossing. Special issue ofJournal of Linguistic Anthropology entitled "A Lexicon for the Millenium"9.1-2: 54-56. doi: 10.1525/jlin.1999.9.1‑2.54
    https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.1999.9.1-2.54 [Google Scholar]
  72. (1999b) Deutsch in inner London and the animation of an instructed foreign language. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3.4: 480-504. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00092
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00092 [Google Scholar]
  73. (2001a) Language crossing, ‘Crosstalk’ and cross-disciplinarity in sociolinguistics. In N. Coupland , S. Sarangi & C. Candlin (eds.), Sociolinguistics and Social Theory. London: Longman, pp. 261- 296.
    [Google Scholar]
  74. (2001b) Critique in interaction. Critique of Anthropology 21.1: 83-107. doi: 10.1177/0308275X0102100105
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0308275X0102100105 [Google Scholar]
  75. Rampton
    (2002) Ritual and foreign language practices at school. Language in Society 31.4: 491-526.
    [Google Scholar]
  76. Reay, D
    (1998) Rethinking social class: Qualitative perspectives on class and gender. Sociology 32.2: 259-275. doi: 10.1177/0038038598032002003
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038598032002003 [Google Scholar]
  77. Sapir, E
    [1931] (1949) Communication. In D. Mandelbaum (ed.), Edward Sapir: Selected Writings in Language, Culture and Personality. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 104-109.
    [Google Scholar]
  78. Silverstein, M
    (1976) Shifters, linguistic categories, and cultural description. In K. Basso & H. Selby (eds.), Meaning in Anthropology. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, pp. 11-55.
    [Google Scholar]
  79. Scott, J
    (1990) Domination and the Arts of Resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  80. Shipley, J.T
    (ed.) (1970) Dictionary of World Literary Terms. London: George Allen & Unwin.
    [Google Scholar]
  81. Skeggs, B
    (1997) Formations of Class and Gender. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  82. Sperber, D
    (1975) Rethinking Symbolism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Stallybrass, P. , and A. White
    (1996) The Politics and Poetics of Transgression. London: Methuen.
    [Google Scholar]
  84. Thompson, E.P
    (1963) The Making of the English Working Class. London: Penguin.
    [Google Scholar]
  85. (1978) The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays. London: Merlin.
    [Google Scholar]
  86. Trudgill, P
    (1983) On Dialect. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  87. Voloshinov, V
    (1973) Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  88. Urcioli, B
    (1996) Exposing Prejudice. Colorado: Westview Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  89. Wells, J.C
    (1982) Accents of English 2: The British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  90. Williams, R
    (1977) Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  91. Willis, P
    (1976) The class significance of school counter-culture. In M. Hammersley , & P. Woods (eds.), The Process of Schooling. London:Routledge & Kegan Paul,pp.188-200.
    [Google Scholar]
  92. (1977) Learning to Labour. Farnborough: Saxon House.
    [Google Scholar]
  93. Woolard, K
    (1985) Language variation and cultural hegemony: Toward an integration of sociolinguistic and social theory. American Ethnologist12: 738-48. doi: 10.1525/ae.1985.12.4.02a00090
    https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1985.12.4.02a00090 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Class; Hegemony; Inequality; Interactional sociolinguistics; Stylisation
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error