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Super-diversity and social class: The view from interaction

In the study of race, ethnicity and class, small-scale social interaction is seen as increasingly important.

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Audio recording available with University log in.

Abstract - From one direction, super-diversity makes ethnic classification a major problem, and faced with the inability of the old binaries – minority/majority, migrant/host – to account for the splits and alignments emerging in the contemporary urban environments, social scientists are turning their attention to informal processes, seeking new principles for social cohesion in local ‘conviviality’ and low-key ‘civility’ (Gilroy 2006; Vertovec 2007). From a second direction, British research on social class now looks back to pre-quantitative, cultural perspectives, seeking the emergence and effects of class in “everyday negotiations of the mundane” (Skeggs 1997), and “in the medium of time, in action and reaction, change and conflict” (Thompson 1978).  Unfortunately, though, key aspects of ‘convivial’ and institutional communication are indirect, implicit, grounded in activity and background understanding, and for any social science that looks to explicit claims and propositions for its primary evidence (cf Savage 2007), this can make interaction hard to study.

To address the problem, this paper uses linguistic ethnography in the case-study of one speaker in a range of urban encounters. It shows how in interplay, ethnic and class-marked linguistic forms provide reliable coordinates for interaction, and this suggests that although the semiotics of class aren’t holding still, they remain a major communicative resource, an essential reference point, even in super-diversity.

A recording of this talk is available . University log in required.

Professor_Ben_Rampton.docxProfessor Ben Rampton's Biography and Abstract (16K)


Baring Court 114