Linguistic ethnography

Maybin, Janet and Tusting, Karin (2011). Linguistic ethnography. In: Simpson, James ed. Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics. Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 515–528.



This handbook chapter introduces a new area of interdisciplinary language research in the UK,linguistic ethnography, which has recently emerged as a ‘site of encounter’ between different theoretical and methodological traditions, and between different fields of professional interest. Its links with particular traditions of work in applied linguistics and anthropology in the United Kingdom and the United States are discussed, including its relationship to linguistic anthropology. The chapter explains the methodological contributions of linguistics and ethnography to linguistic ethnography, discusses its explanatory potential and indicates the ways in which these have been articulated together in linguistic ethnographic research. There is more specific examination of how linguistic and ethnographic methodologies have been combined in educational settings, the workplace and community and in literacy research. The chapter goes on to identify and articulate tensions which have been emerging in current work combining these methodologies, in particular the tensions between social constructionist and realist perspectives and questions about the positionality and focus of the researcher.New areas of work for linguistic ethnography are opened up and explored in relation to multimodality and digital literacies. Finally, the chapter identifies directions to explore in the development of new mediational concepts which can tune linguistic concepts and procedures to the multimodality and complex contextuality of contemporary communicative practice.

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