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Language as Symbolic Power

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Part of Key Topics in Applied Linguistics

  • Date Published: October 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108798891

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About the Authors
  • Language is not simply a tool for communication - symbolic power struggles underlie any speech act, discourse move, or verbal interaction, be it in face-to-face conversations, online tweets or political debates. This book provides a clear and accessible introduction to the topic of language and power from an applied linguistics perspective. It is clearly split into three sections: the power of symbolic representation, the power of symbolic action and the power to create symbolic reality. It draws upon a wide range of existing work by philosophers, sociolinguists, sociologists and applied linguists, and includes current real-world examples, to provide a fresh insight into a topic that is of particular significance and interest in the current political climate and in our increasingly digital age. The book shows the workings of language as symbolic power in educational, social, cultural and political settings and discusses ways to respond to and even resist symbolic violence.

    • Introduces a new way of looking at language as symbolic representation, symbolic action, and the symbolic construction of social reality
    • Introduces readers to post-structuralist perspectives on language and language use
    • Includes historical, cultural and transdisciplinary perspectives on the digital revolution of our age and the power of its symbolic systems
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this remarkable, wide-ranging, yet readable book, Claire Kramsch asks what it takes for language learners and users not just to be understood, but to be valued, taken seriously, treated with respect. This is a question - all too often silenced in language education and applied linguistics - of symbolic power, of being listened to rather than just heard. It is an inquiry of great significance.' Alastair Pennycook, Distinguished Professor of Language, Society and Education, University of Technology Sydney

    'This book is a tour de force, the fruit of Kramsch’s brilliant command of ideas and arguments from many fields and many language and cultures. It is powerfully and clearly argued – and a pleasure to read. The provocation to re-think so many issues in applied linguistics and language teaching continues long after the reader has put this exhilarating book down.' Tim McNamara, Professor Emeritus in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics (Honorary), University of Melbourne

    ‘… [This book] invites us to focus on the symbolic effects of discourse and in so doing increases our understanding of how we shape the world and how the world shapes us in online, offline, and liminal spaces. It invites us to wonder, talk, and teach about how the symbolic power of language might help us better understand and resist a world fraught with deeply entrenched inequalities, racism, political populism, and climate injustices.’ Ari Sherris, Sociolinguistic Studies journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108798891
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 140 x 215 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Part I. The Power of Symbolic Representation:
    1. 'I speak therefore I am'
    2. The politics of representation
    3. Narratives of power: the power of narrative
    Part II. The Power of Symbolic Action:
    4. 'I do things with words, therefore I am'
    5. From symbolic power to symbolic violence
    6. When symbolic violence becomes symbolic warfare
    Part III. The Power to Create Symbolic Reality:
    7. 'I am seen and talked about, therefore I am'
    8. Language as symbolic power in the digital age
    9. Engaging with symbolic power: responding to symbolic violence
    Conclusion.

  • Author

    Claire Kramsch, University of California, Berkeley
    Claire Kramsch is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. She has won the Kenneth Mildenberger Award from the Modern Language Association three times, for Context and Culture in Language Teaching (1993), The Multilingual Subject (2009) and The Multi-lingual Instructor (2018, with Lihua Zhang). She is the past President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA).

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