What does the ‘critical’ in critical sociolinguistics or critical discourse studies actually mean? Generally, ‘critical’ has three interrelated meanings. Critical in the sense of ‘being critical’ of traditional approaches: In this sense, critical research is wary of mainstream ideas based in tradition. Critical sociolinguistics, for instance, is critical of traditional approaches to language policy research.
‘Discourse’ is not a simple term. It means different things to different people. Scholars of discourse studies generally agree that the term has three main meanings: ‘Language above the sentence’, or, following Gee (2014), ‘d discourse’: This is about how we package what we say or write into discrete units and arrange these packages in, for instance, the flow of a conversation.
Realism and constructivism are two different epistemological positions, that is, two different ways of understanding how we know what we know. Realism = objects in the world have inherent properties that constrain observational accounts. Constructivism = the very ‘reality’ of objects is itself an outcome of discursive practices in relation to the object.
Food is an essential part of life. It is also a well-known site where judgements about ‘good taste’ are employed for boundary-marking and class status maintenance. Today, much of this plays out through social media, where food is one of the most popular topics. With its strong emphasis on images, the photo-sharing platform Instagram is a perfect example of this practice.
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