Politics and applied linguistics

Seargeant, Philip (2023). Politics and applied linguistics. In: Wei, Li; Zhu, Hua and Simpson, James eds. The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics, Second Edition. Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics, 2. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003082637-16

Abstract

For the discipline of applied linguistics, political issues have always been a central concern, whether they are addressed implicitly or explicitly. If we take Brumfit’s definition of applied linguistics as the ‘investigation of real-world problems in which language is a central issue’ (1995: 27), it becomes inevitable that, assuming we believe that the ‘real world’ is intrinsically political, the discipline itself needs to address issues of power. In this chapter, I examine three main issues concerning the relationship between politics and language. The first focuses on politics about language - the way that (ideas about) language, particular languages, and language use become the site for political debate and struggle. The second is politics enacted through language - the ways that language use itself achieves or is subject to political effects. And the third examines the ways in which applied linguistics is relevant specifically to electoral politics - how insights from linguistics can be applied to the analysis, or even the practice, of political engagement, especially in the context of electoral or party politics.

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