11 December 2019

Sociolinguistic citizenship

Ben Rampton

This paper engages with Christopher Stroud’s ‘Linguistic Citizenship’, a concept committed to democratic participation, to voice, to the heterogeneity of linguistic resources and to the political value of sociolinguistic understanding. It first outlines its links with the ethnographic sociolinguistics inspired by Hymes, and then turns to language and language education in England. Although the dominant discourses of language and citizenship are very much at odds with Stroud’s conception (and to avoid confusion, prompt us to call LC ‘Sociolinguistic Citizenship’), it is very well suited to the multilingualism of everyday urban life, and it complements a range of relatively small, independently funded educational initiatives promoting similar values. But their efforts are currently constrained by issues of scale and sustainability, and it may be in the collaboration between universities and not-for-profit organisations that Sociolinguistic Citizenship can find its most sustainable support.