Dr Joe Bennett

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics
Head of English Language and Linguistics

Contact details

Frankland Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach on a number of courses in the School of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies, and I research relations between language, communication and society. My current focus is the moral and ethical life of language.


  • BA (Hons) Linguistics, Edinburgh
  • MA Critical Discourse, Culture and Communication, Birmingham
  • PhD English, Birmingham
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Birmingham


I have worked as a lecturer at the University of Birmingham since 2011. Before that I taught part-time at the university, and at York, Aston and Wolverhampton.


I teach and convene a number of modules in the School of English, Drama, American and Canadian Studies. In 2015-16, these modules are:

  • Theories of Language (1st year)
  • Creative Practice: Language (1st year)
  • Discourse & Society (3rd year)
  • Social and Multimodal Aspects of Communication (MA)
  • Multimodal Communication (Distance Learning MA)

Postgraduate supervision

I am keen to supervise postgraduate research in the areas of Critical Discourse Analysis, Sociolinguistics, and Multimodal Communication.

I am currently supervising PhD work on: nationalist ideologies in the Japanese language classroom; the concept of ‘agency’ in critical linguistics; the discourse of liveblogs; university fund-raising discourse; media discourses on vegetarianism; representations of gay men with HIV and AIDS; representations of Thailand on tourist and travel websites.

Find out more - our PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


In very general terms, my research focuses on relations between language, communication, and society. But I have particular interests in the following:

  1. The moral and ethical life of language. I am writing a book on the ways in which language is implicated in the social activity of moral evaluation. I am also interested in the ways in which people make moral and ethical evaluations of language itself.
  2. Relations between language and social class. This I have explored in my PhD on the word ‘chav’ and in a number of papers since.

Other activities

I am an external examiner for undergraduate programmes in English Language at the University of Manchester and at Oxford Brookes. 


  • In preparation. How to Do Things With Morality: a Critical Sociolinguistic Approach to Moral Talk.
  • In preparation. The moral life of language: were British MPs ‘paying tribute’ to Margaret Thatcher or ‘singing her praises’?
  • Under review. The critical problem of cynical irony: meaning what you say and ideologies of class and gender. Social Semiotics, special issue on gender, humour and social structure
  • 2014. Avoiding emotivism: a sociolinguistic approach to moral talk. Language & Communication 39: 73-82.
  • 2013. Moralising class: a discourse analysis of the mainstream political response to Occupy and the August 2011 British riots. Discourse & Society 24(1): 27-45
  • 2012. Chav-spotting in Britain: the representation of social class as private choice. Social Semiotics 23(1): 146-162.
  • 2012. ‘And what comes out may be a kind of screeching’: the stylisation of chavspeak in contemporary Britain. Journal of Sociolinguistics 16(1): 5-27.
  • 2007. The discursive construction of British identity in six daily newspapers. Edinburgh Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, 15

View all publications in research portal