Web page at University of Barcelona

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Web page of the Complexity, Communication and Sociolinguistics Group. 

Página web del Grupo de Complejidad, Comunicación y Sociolingüística

La langue vit comme un grand arbre
dont les racines sont aux tréfonds de la vie sociale et des vies cerebrales,
et dont les frondaisons s’épanouissent dans la noosphère.

Edgar Morin

(La Méthode, 4. Les idées. Leur habitat, leur vie, leurs moeurs, leur organisation).

The paradigmatic revolutions in 20th-century demand that we reflect on our own paradigms in the light of the great changes in the other disciplines. The elements must not be represented as being outside those of the others, separate and independent, since the interdependencies and integrations are the foundation of reality. 

We need a dynamic ‘ecologization’ and 'complexification' of thinking, in order to consider the contexts of phenomena in an integrated manner with the phenomena themselves. We are unlikely to be able to understand human behaviour if we do not bring the mind-brain  into the foreground of our analyses, as it is where reality is perceived, processed cognitively and emotively, and where – consciously or otherwise – the courses of action that an individual takes are decided. A science that sees language not as an ‘object’ but from a (socio)complexity perspective has a much greater chance of succeeding in the task of making linguistic and communicative phenomena intelligible.

Unlike the traditional perspective that separates linguistic varieties from their bio-psycho-socio-politico-cultural contexts and makes of them specialised objects existing in a vacuum, the complex ecological sociolinguistic perspective is based on the fact that linguistic structures do not live in isolation from their social functions – the existence of matter is indissoluble from its activity, says Einstein. Equally, linguistic structures must be situated ecologically in relation with the sub- and supra-systems that determine their existence if we are to understand their fortunes. The unit of survival is the organism-in-its-environment, says Bateson. So our proposal aims to provide the basis of an integrative focus, from the perspective of complexity – distinguer sans disjoindre (Morin) – which draws on the contributions of traditional approaches to the study of language systems, but goes beyond them to establish a vision that is more interrelated with the other coexisting sociocultural factors, thus permitting a better understanding of the linguistic phenomenon as a whole. Therefore, objects in their context, languages in their context. The context in the languages. The world is in the language, which is in the world.

The existence of linguistic varieties is conceived from the point of view of the eco-system. The assumption of the eco-system is that the fate of a particular linguistic variety – that is, its survival, its alteration, or its substitution – depends on the evolution of the sociocultural factors that are involved in its production. Its structure, then, is governed by the social functions that it is required to perform. As Lieberson notes, each societal change may be viewed as directing a new influence on the state of the languages in contact that would lead to a new linguistic equilibrium if no further changes occurred (1970:11). Speaking is thus seen as a subset of human action, susceptible to adaptation to the changing needs of the ecosystem in which the individuals live. But these individuals may also intervene in the evolution of their environment by modifying it to their advantage.

This approach sees contact between linguistic groups as a three-way phenomenon rather than a two-way one. In conceiving the relation between, for example, two species, the ecological perspective bears in mind at all times the milieu in which the relation develops. This perspective is vitally important for understanding the impact of migration on language contact, as it underlines the need to take into account the structure of the environment as well as the two groups in question. The structure of the environment is a decisive factor.

"Toward 'complexics' as a transdiscipline", Dipòsit digital, Universitat de Barcelona, 2014. (English translation of "Cap a la ‘complèxica’ com a transdisciplina”, in: Martí, M. Antònia, & Mariona Taulé (eds.), Homenatge a Sebastià Serrano. Barcelona: Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, pp. 2014, 63-77.

Cap a la ‘complèxica’ com a transdisciplina”, in: Martí, M. Antònia, & Mariona Taulé (eds.), Homenatge a Sebastià Serrano. Barcelona: Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, pp. 2014, 63-77.

Sociolingüística: per una mirada complèxica", in: Massip, À., & A. Bastardas (eds.), Complèxica. Cervell, societat i llengua des de la transdisciplinarietat. Barcelona: Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, 2014, pp. 291-316.

"Lingüística i ciències de la comunicació: sociocomplèxica com a perspectiva integradora", in: Massip, À., & A. Bastardas (eds.), Complèxica. Cervell, societat i llengua des de la transdisciplinarietat. Barcelona: Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, 2014, pp. 231-258.

Towards a complex-figurational socio-linguistics: Some contributions from physics,ecology and the sciences of complexity”, History of the Human Sciences, Vol. 27, Issue 3, 2014, pp. 55-75. DOI: 10.1177/0952695114534425. 

Ecología y sostenibilidad lingüísticas: una aproximación desde la (socio)complejidad”, Eugenio Coseriu In Memoriam. XIV Jornadas de Lingüística. Cádiz: Universidad de Cádiz, 2014.


(2014), “Autobiografía intelectual”, in: Laborda, Xavier, Lourdes Romera, Ana M. Fernández Planas (eds.). La lingüística en España. 24 autobiografías. Barcelona: Editorial UOC, 2014, pp. 29-43.

Language policy and planning as an interdisciplinary field: towards a complexity approach”, Current Issues in Language Planning, vol. 14, issue 3-04, 2013. DOI: 10.1080/14664208.2013.829276.


Sociolinguistics: Towards a Complex Ecological View”, in: Massip-Bonet, A., & A. Bastardas-Boada (eds.), Complexity perspectives on language, communication and society. Berlin: Springer, 2013, pp. 15-34.

General Linguistics and Communication Sciences: Sociocomplexity as an Integrative Perspective, in: Massip-Bonet, A., & A. Bastardas-Boada (eds.), Complexity perspectives on language, communication and society. Berlin: Springer, 2013, pp. 151-173.

Language and identity policies in the ‘glocal’ age: New processes, effects and principles of organization. Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics, Generalitat de Catalunya, 2012. 

“Ecología y sostenibilidad lingüísticas: aportaciones desde la perspectiva de la sociocomplejidad”, Jornadas sobre Sociocomplejidad, (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Seminario permanente de Lingüística Aplicada, Centro de Enseñanza de Lenguas Extranjeras), UAM-Iztapalata, Universidad de Sonora-Hermosillo, Universitat de Barcelona, videoconferencia), 2011. (video 1 [16:11 a 47:03] &  video 2 [00:00 a 34:33]).



Ecología y sostenibilidad lingüísticas: ideas clave”, La normalización desde la sostenibilidad lingüística como elemento integrador para el desarrollo sostenible en sociedades avanzadas (Seminario Interdisciplinar). Soziolinguistika klusterra, Eusko Ikaskuntza, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, 2011.



De l'ecologia a la sostenibilitat lingüístiques: del marc teòric al propositiu i pràctic” (euskaraz), Hizkuntza-ekologia eta lurralde euskaldunak (UEMA, Soziolinguistika klusterra, Eusko Ikaskuntza, Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea), 2011.



Ecología y sostenibilidad lingüísticas: una aproximación desde la (socio)complejidad”, XIV Jornadas de Lingüística de la Universidad de Cádiz, 2011.

"Towards a global model of linguistic ecology", Catalan International View 5 (Winter), 2009, pp. 14-17.

Sociolingüística y linguodiversidad: una aproximación desde la ecología compleja” / “Soziolinguistika eta hizkuntzaniztasuna ekologia konplexutik abiatutako hurbilketa, Hizkunea, Soziolinguistikako Agerkaria (Boletín de sociolingüística de la Viceconsejería de Política Lingüística del Gobierno Vasco), 2009.

Linguistic sustainability for a multilingual humanity”, Glossa. An Interdisciplinary Journal (on-line), 2007, vol. 2, n. 2.


Linguistic sustainability and language ecology”, Language & Ecology  3 (on-line), 2005.


"Sociolingüística versus política y planificación lingüísticas: distinciones entre los campos y nociones integradoras", Revista de llengua i dret  41, 2004, pp. 175-194. ["Sociolingüística versus política i planificació lingüístiques: distincions entre els camps i nocions integradores", Resum en català /  "Sociolinguistics versus language policy and language planning: field distinctions and elements of integration", English Abstract].


"Ecology and diversity: A comparative trip from Biology to Linguistics", in: Boudreau, Annette et alii (eds.), Colloque international sur l'Écologie des langues. París: L'Harmattan, 2003, pp. 33-43.


"Ecodinámica sociolingüística: comparaciones y analogías entre la diversidad lingüística y la diversidad biológica", Revista de llengua i dret  39, 2003, pp. 119-148. ["Sociolinguistic ecodynamics: comparisons and analogies between linguistic diversity and biodiversity]", English abstract].


"Biological and linguistic diversity: Transdisciplinary explorations for a socioecology of languages", Diverscité langues, vol. VII, Analyses et réflexions, 2002, (on-line).


 “School language and demosociolinguistic context in francophone children and teenagers in Canada outside of Quebec: A warning for the Catalan situation”,  Noves SL. Revista de sociolingüística (Barcelona), 2002, (on-line).


World language policy in the era of globalization: Diversity and intercommunication from the perspective of 'complexity'”,  (English),  Noves SL. Revista de sociolingüística (Barcelona), 2002, (on-line).


“The Ecological perspective: Benefits and risks for Sociolinguistics and Language Policy and Planning”, in: Fill, Alwin, Hermine Penz, & W. Trampe (eds.), Colourful Green Ideas. Berna: Peter Lang, 2002, pp. 77-88. (Paper: Language Planning and Language Ecology: Towards a theoretical integration”, Symposium 30 Years of Ecolinguistics, Graz, Austria, 2000).


Minority language communities in the age of globalization: Rethinking the organization of human language diversity, ESF Exploratory Workshop (Bath, 2001).


“Contextes et représentations dans les contactes linguistiques par décision politique: substitution versus diglossie dans la perspective de la planétarisation”  (Français), Diverscité langues, 1997.


Ecologia de les llengües. Medi, contactes i dinàmica sociolingüística [Ecology of languages. Context, contacts and sociolinguistic dynamics]. Barcelona: Proa/Enciclopèdia Catalana, 1996.


Language management and language behavior change: policies and social persistence”, Catalan Review vol. IX, 2, 1995, pp. 15-38.


Política i planificació lingüístiques: perspectives i preguntes per a un camp interdisciplinari”, Revista de llengua i dret (Barcelona) 24, 1995,  pp. 145-163. [“Language policy and language planning: perspectives and questions for an interdisciplinary field”,  English abstract].


The Relation Between Linguistic Context, Behaviour and Competence . Quebec: Centre International de Recherche sur le Bilinguisme, Université Laval, 1986.


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Jaume Plensa's sculptures
                                                                  (Jaume Plensa's sculptures)