Strangers and States: Situating Accentism in a World of Nations

Hegarty, Peter (2020). Strangers and States: Situating Accentism in a World of Nations. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 39(1) pp. 172–179.



This afterword to the Special Issue “Sounding Strange(r): Origins, Consequences, and Boundary Conditions of Sociophonetic Discrimination.” engages the editors’ enthusiasm to consider how to scale things up from smaller experimental studies of accentism to larger social dynamics. In so doing, I highlight some different epistemologies that might engage when conversations are studied for instances of accentism, and nation formation creates the conditions for accentism. I suggest that more explicit attention to contexts in which some ways of speaking are made normative and others are marked will facilitate this development. Some of the historical impact of nation formation on accentism are evident in the results and the methods of the social psychological research included in the Special Issue. Nation formation creates different norms for language use in similar ways. Situating accentism research this way allows us to reconsider the question raised by several of the authors that accentism may be a more profound form of social bias than racism.

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