The politics of English

Our research interests in the social aspects of language in use involve, in particular, looking at the politics of language.

Our research investigates politics at the ‘macro-level’ – with studies of language policy and the discourse of political leaders – and at the ‘micro level’ – where researchers consider portrayals of older women in the media, or look at the politics of the ‘linguistic landscapes’ of our everyday lives. Researchers in this area draw on frameworks from social theory, sociolinguistics, critical discourse analysis and social semiotics and this research is underpinned by Birmingham’s world renowned expertise in corpus research and discourse analysis and the blend of the two approaches which was originally developed at Birmingham, as well as by informant-based research.

Our MA in Critical Discourse, Culture and Communication programme reflects our research activity in this field, as do elements of our campus MA in Applied Linguistics, distance learning MA in Applied Linguistics and undergraduate programmes in English Language. We have a thriving PhD programme in English Language and Applied Linguistics with students in this area working on such topics as the implementation of Welsh language policy, the mediation of British political speeches in social and traditional media, and the language of UK Government sex education materials.

Staff and areas of expertise

Dr Joe Bennett the relationships between the resources, linguistic, multimedia and otherwise, that people use to communicate.

Robert Holland Discourse and ideology, media discourse, translation and (mis)representation across languages / cultures.

Dr Alison Sealey The connections between social processes and language in use – from face-to-face interactions to the laws which prescribe educational policy; the language of Prime Ministers’ Questions; the analysis of linguistic data through the lens of realist social theory, with its attention to structure, culture and agency.