Language and social inequality: sociolinguistic axes of investigation

20 March 2024 · Christoph Purschke · 1 minute read · #conversations

CuCo Lab Conversations | Mi-Cha Flubacher (Zurich University of Applied Sciences)


It might have become somewhat of a cliché to invoke Dell Hymes, one the of the founding figures of sociolinguistics (e.g. 1973, 1996), to argue for the study of inequality between speakers and language(s) as the main concern for the newly emerging discipline. How does sociolinguistics deal with social inequality today? While inequalities are recognised to be deeply entrenched in social structures, sociolinguists sometimes wonder what they can offer in the face of on-going wars, existential crises, and potentially life-threatening experiences of minoritized groups. Is it facetious to study inequality related to speakers and language(s) – or is it even more relevant than ever? It is the aim of this talk to make a case for the study of inequality in and through language. For this purpose, I will discuss the example of language learning for professional purposes in the context of migrant integration.


  • Dr. Mi-Cha Flubacher, ZHAW | Website