Sociolinguistic diversity – bibliography

by Karel Arnaut

Working Papers WP 12-10
July 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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This document presents published abstracts and summaries of the bibliographic references of the concept paper ‘Language and superdiversity’ authored by Jan Blommaert and Ben Rampton. The concept paper functions as the charter of the Working Group Sociolinguistic Diversity (WG-SLD) and is published both as an MPG Working Paper and as the opening article in the special issue Language and Superdiversities of the UNESCO journal Diversities (13/2, 2011). The main reason for elaborating the bibliographic side of the concept paper is that the latter expresses well the overall background, the basic concerns, and the emergent research options of the WG-SLD. As for background, the concept paper gives an excellent overview of the main trends and achievements of sociolinguistics over the past four decades. To be sure, it presents a ‘selective tradition’ of ethnography-driven and ideology/power-sensitive sociolinguists like John Gumperz, Dell Hymes and Michael Silverstein. More broadly, the social and cultural theory within which this selective sociolinguistic tradition is embedded is that of Bakhtin, Bourdieu, Foucault, Goffman, Hall and Williams. Qua expressing the basic concerns of the WG-SLD, the work and ideas of many of its members can be found in the concept paper. As the authors fully acknowledge, the WG-SLD charter indeed voices ideas and research sensitivities which have been emanating and circulating among WG-SLD members for some time – indeed, far longer than the existence of the Working Group which was created in 2011. Therefore, the latter may be granted the production role of ‘animator’ (in Goffman’s inspired terminology), which of course does not in any way misrecognize Jan and Ben’s formidable authoring achievement.

Putting together a bibliography, locating published abstracts and writing summaries is not the most arousing of academic tasks. For that reason I was relieved to receive the help of the student assistants at the MPG and of all the members of the WG-SLD. Among them Cecile Vigouroux, Piia Varis, Lian Malai Madsen, and Martha Karrebæk deserve special mention as well as ‘member-elect’ of the Working Group, Jef Van der Aa (Babylon, Tilburg University).

This bibliography is an elementary research tool as much as it is a static one; in its present form it does not allow for regular updates. For that reason the WG-SLD has opted to also develop other more flexible bibliographic instruments in the form of Endnote libraries. These can also be found in the Publication section of the WG-SLD website and will be updated every three months. Together with this basic bibliographic tool, the WG-SLD keeps its members, its many stakeholders and the public at large posted on both its fundamental sources of inspiration and its many publications. The latter attest to the confrontation of longstanding ideas with new challenges in the form of the superdiverse world, which the WG-SLD seeks to scrutinise.

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