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Vol 11, Issue 6, Identity negotiations in narrative accounts about poverty. Dorien Van De Mieroop. Implicit and explicit identity constructions in the life story of one of Hitler Dorien van de Mieroop and more Being Fred: big stories, small stories and the accomplishment of a positive ageing identity. Cassandra Phoenix and more Qualitative Research. Five dynamic language—power relationships in communication have emerged from critical language studies, sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, and the social psychology of language and communication.
Two of them stem from preexisting powers behind language that it reveals and reflects, thereby transferring the extralinguistic powers to the communication context. Such powers exist at both the micro and macro levels.
At the macro level, the power behind language is the collective power ethnolinguistic vitality of the communities that speak the language. The dominance of English as a global language and international lingua franca, for example, has less to do with its linguistic quality and more to do with the ethnolinguistic vitality of English-speakers worldwide that it reflects.
Such language powers include, first, the power of language to maintain existing dominance in legal, sexist, racist, and ageist discourses that favor particular groups of language users over others. Another language power is its immense impact on national unity and discord. The third language power is its ability to create influence through single words e.
Keywords: power behind language , power of language , intergroup communication , World Englishes , oratorical power , conversational power , leader emergence , al-Qaeda narrative , social identity approach.
Language is a natural human system of conventionalized symbols that have understood meanings. Through it humans express and communicate their private thoughts and feelings as well as enact various social functions.
The social functions include co-constructing social reality between and among individuals, performing and coordinating social actions such as conversing, arguing, cheating, and telling people what they should or should not do. Language is also a public marker of ethnolinguistic, national, or religious identity, so strong that people are willing to go to war for its defense, just as they would defend other markers of social identity, such as their national flag.
These cognitive, communicative, social, and identity functions make language a fundamental medium of human communication.
Language is also a versatile communication medium, often and widely used in tandem with music, pictures, and actions to amplify its power. Silence, too, adds to the force of speech when it is used strategically to speak louder than words. The wide range of language functions and its versatility combine to make language powerful. Even so, this is only one part of what is in fact a dynamic relationship between language and power. The other part is that there is preexisting power behind language which it reveals and reflects, thereby transferring extralinguistic power to the communication context.
It is thus important to delineate the language—power relationships and their implications for human communication. This chapter provides a systematic account of the dynamic interrelationships between language and power, not comprehensively for lack of space, but sufficiently focused so as to align with the intergroup communication theme of the present volume.
It echoes the pioneering attempts to develop an intergroup perspective on the social psychology of language and communication behavior made by pioneers drawn from communication, social psychology, and cognate fields see Harwood et al. This intergroup perspective has fostered the development of intergroup communication as a discipline distinct from and complementing the discipline of interpersonal communication. Against this backdrop, this chapter will be less concerned with any particular social category of intergroup communication or variant of social identity theory, and more with developing a conceptual framework of looking at the language—power relationships and their implications for understanding intergroup communication.
Readers interested in an intra- or interpersonal perspective may refer to the volume edited by Holtgraves a. Bertrand Russell, logician cum philosopher and social activist, published a relatively little-known book on power when World War II was looming large in Europe Russell, In it he asserted the fundamental importance of the concept of power in the social sciences and likened its importance to the concept of energy in the physical sciences.
Linde claims such stories serve a number of psychological and social purposes, including the development and expression of a sense of self and the solidification and definition of relationships and group memberships. How to do things with words. Coherence in Psychological Studies In the psychological literature relating to narrative representations, coherence is viewed as established by means of a collaboration of the text spoken or written and the receiving mind of the listener or reader. Language and Power. Power of Single Words Learning a language empowers humans to master an elaborate system of conventions and the associations between words and their sounds on the one hand, and on the other hand, categories of objects and relations to which they refer. Law and Society Review , 14 , — Caleb: yeah it is
But unlike physical energy, which can be defined in a formula e. This state of affairs is not unexpected because the very nature of social power is elusive. Foucault , p. Power is also a value-laden concept meaning different things to different people. These entrenched views surface in management—labor negotiations and political debates between government and opposition.
The elusive and value-laden nature of power has led to a plurality of theoretical and conceptual approaches. Five approaches that are particularly pertinent to the language—power relationships will be discussed, and briefly so because of space limitation.
Another approach views power as the production of intended effects by overcoming resistance that arises from objective conflict of interests or from psychological reactance to being coerced, manipulated, or unfairly treated. It provides a structural account of power-balancing mechanisms in social networking Emerson, , and forms the basis for combining with symbolic interaction theory, which brings in subjective factors such as shared social cognition and affects for the analysis of power in interpersonal and intergroup negotiation Stolte, According to this model, it is psychological group formation and associated group-based social identity that produce influence; influence then cumulates to form the basis of power, which in turn leads to the control of resources.
Common to the five approaches above is the recognition that power is dynamic in its usage and can transform from one form of power to another. Non-decision-making power, the second dimension, is power behind the scene. It involves the mobilization of organizational bias e. Conflict of interests, opposition, and resistance would be absent from this form of power, not because they have been maneuvered out of the contest as in the case of non-decision-making power, but because the people who are subject to power are no longer aware of any conflict of interest in the power relationship, which may otherwise ferment opposition and resistance.
Power in this form can be exercised without the application of coercion or reward, and without arousing perceived manipulation or conflict of interests. As indicated in the chapter title, discussion will focus on the language—power relationships, and not on language alone or power alone, in intergroup communication. It draws from all the five approaches to power and can be grouped for discussion under the power behind language and the power of language.
In the former, language is viewed as having no power of its own and yet can produce influence and control by revealing the power behind the speaker.
In the case of modern English, its preeminent status as a global language and international lingua franca has shaped the communication between native and nonnative English speakers because of the power of the English-speaking world that it reflects, rather than because of its linguistic superiority. In both cases, language provides a widely used conventional means to transfer extralinguistic power to the communication context. Research on the power of language takes the view that language has power of its own.
This power allows a language to maintain the power behind it, unite or divide a nation, and create influence. In Figure 1 we have grouped the five language—power relationships into five boxes. Note that the boundary between any two boxes is not meant to be rigid but permeable. For example, by revealing the power behind a message box 1 , a message can create influence box 5. As another example, language does not passively reflect the power of the language community that uses it box 2 , but also, through its spread to other language communities, generates power to maintain its preeminence among languages box 3.
This expansive process of language power can be seen in the rise of English to global language status. A similar expansive process also applies to a particular language style that first reflects the power of the language subcommunity who uses the style, and then, through its common acceptance and usage by other subcommunities in the country, maintains the power of the subcommunity concerned. A prime example of this type of expansive process is linguistic sexism, which reflects preexisting male dominance in society and then, through its common usage by both sexes, contributes to the maintenance of male dominance.