Book Chapter

Mediating allegations of racism in a multiethnic London school: What speech communities and communities of practice can tell us about discourse and power

Citation

Creese A (2005) Mediating allegations of racism in a multiethnic London school: What speech communities and communities of practice can tell us about discourse and power. In: Barton D & Tusting K (eds.) Beyond Communities of Practice: Language Power and Social Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 55-76. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511610554.005

Abstract
In this paper, I will examine two approaches to the study of community to understand what kind of purchase they can give on a small piece of ethnographic data from a large multicultural London secondary school. The first approach has emerged from linguistic anthropology and is the notion of a speech community developed by Hymes (1968, 1972, 1974) and Gumperz (1972, 1982, 1999). The second is the community of practice developed by Lave and Wenger (1991) and Wenger (1998), and emerging from psychology and education, but also widely used today in management studies and by the commercial sector and its consultancies. An argument is made that, despite its concern with shared repertoire, the learning theory of communities of practice lacks a coherent theory of language in use. Despite its emphasis on negotiation of meaning, we are given little insight into how meanings are made and interpreted. It lacks the infrastructure to explain the role language plays in social life. The notion of speech community, on the other hand, stems from the tradition of linguistic anthropology which has developed a coherent theory of language and the tools to describe and explain language use. Within the linguistic anthropological tradition, language is seen as working through a complex interplay of signs and symbols. Language is fundamentally social and performs a variety of functions, all of which define it as a cultural artefact which has its foundations in the organization of humankind and its culture.

Journal
Beyond Communities of Practice: Language, Power and Social Context

StatusPublished
Publication date31/12/2005
Publication date online01/11/2009
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of publicationCambridge
ISBN9780511610554