Sixth Conference on Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication: Diversities in global societies

Södertörn University (Sweden), 22-23 Sept 2016


Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication (EELC) is a biannual conference for the Linguistic Ethnography Forum affiliated with the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL).

Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication är en konferens som anordnas vartannat år inom ramen för Linguistic Ethnography Forum, som är knutet till The British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL).

BAAL Annual Meeting 2016 LEF strand

There was a strong Linguistic Ethnography Forum track at the BAAL 2016 Annual Meeting, held at Anglia Ruskin University, 1-3 September 2016.

Richard Barwell, from the University of Ottawa, presented his research on linguistic ethnography and language diversity in classroom settings, drawing in particular on work in language diverse mathematics classrooms in Canada, and reflecting on how these highlighted issues of reflexivity, indexicality and intertextuality.

Jackie Militello, from the University of Hong Kong, shared her work with Hong Kong university students applying for jobs in elite financial firms. She sat with students as they prepared for interviews using Internet searches, interviewed them, and had mock interview answers from them evaluated by industry professionals. She showed the barriers they faced in making use of the information they found: from difficulty in finding the most useful information in the first place, to lack of familiarity with the colloquial English language used on websites, to the lack of implicit knowledge about how to come across to interviewers as ‘one of us’ in dress and style as well as in terms of how they presented their experience. They were therefore disadvantaged against Ivy League students, steeped in an elite business habitus.

Daniel Perrin, Alexandra Gnach and Marlies Whitehouse, from Zurich University of Applied Sciences, shared their fascinating work based on the detailed logging of people’s writing practices over long periods of time in a range of settings – the paper drew examples from education, financial communication, and journalism. On the basis of their long history of ethnographic work, they argued that there has been a shift from ‘focused writing’, writing as a localized, coherent, and solitary activity, to ‘writing by-the-way’ – a fragmented, dialogic approach to writing, emerging from social media, which happens at any location, at all times, alongside other kinds of activities. They explored the implications of this shift, suggesting (presciently, given current political circumstances) that this might be part of a shift to a ‘post-factual’ era – at least, that is, if we are unable to develop practices which can confront complex societal problems through this kind of writing by-the-way.

Rachel Heinrichsmeier, from King’s College London, drew on her extended linguistic ethnography of a local hairdressing salon to show how older women negotiated expectations around how they positioned themselves in relation to social expectations around appearance. This was a complex negotiation, with women having to avoid ‘letting themselves go’ while at the same time not showing an excessive concern which could be interpreted as vanity. She showed through micro-analysis how one woman in particular challenged these expectations by subverting expected routines of interaction in the salon, and thus making some ‘wiggle-room’ for herself around these social constraints.

Deirdre Martin (Goldsmiths) and Caroline Tagg (Open University) shared a study of texting practices among teenage school pupils of Panjabi heritage who were categorised by their schools as having lower literacy skills. Their paper reflexively explored the interviews they carried out as sociolinguistic events, showing how the boys and girls they worked with took control in the interviews in different ways, producing data, controlling access to texts, supporting and scaffolding one anothers’ responses, and showing how the unsanctioned writing practices of texting provided a space for these pupils’ linguistic versatility, creativity and voice which was not available to them in the school setting.

Thank you to all the presenters, this was a really interesting day which showcased the diversity of work in the area of linguistic ethnography, and particularly the careful reflexivity of linguistic ethnographers in approaching the interpretation of data.

Researching multilingual practices in mediatized communication, 1 Mar 2016, Ghent University

LEF, Ghent University (Intercomm) & University of Antwerp (IPAC) cordially invite you to the workshop: Researching multilingual practices in mediatized communication

Tuesday 1 March 2016, 1.30 pm-17.30 pm

Ghent University, Belgium, Abdisstraat 1, 9000 Gent, Room A. 1.04.

Registration: free attendance, with a maximum of 25 participants. Please e-mail



Ellen Van Praet, Research Centre for Multilingual and Intercultural Communication, Ghent University

Tom Van Hout, Institute for Professional and Academic Communication, University of Antwerp

Workshop theme

This workshop explores the epistemological and methodological consequences of studying digital communicative practices. If communication increasingly takes place in mediated environments, how can linguistic ethnography adjust its toolkit to online contexts of production, consumption, and circulation?

In sociolinguistics, mediatization is seen as an ongoing process of socio-cultural change driven by the saturation of mediated communication (Androutsopoulos 2014, Van Hout & Burger 2015). In linguistic anthropology, mediatization is defined in the broad sense as ‘institutional practices that reflexively link processes of communication to processes of commoditization’ (Agha 2011: 163) and in the more narrow sense as ‘the representational choices involved in the production and editing of text, image, and talk in the creation of media products’ (Jaffe 2009: 572). Terms such as virtual ethnography, network ethnography, netnography, cyberethnography, and webnography indicate researchers’ attempts at transferring principles and techniques of offline ethnography to computer-mediated communication.

For this workshop we bring together 4 speakers adopting a linguistic ethnographic research perspective on digital data, with a specific focus on multilingualism.

Workshop program

13.30. Opening & welcome

13.45. Jannis Androutsopoulos (Hamburg University) Locating multilingual practices in social networking: a mixed methods approach.

14.30. Katja Pelsmaekers (University of Antwerp) Engaging the museum visitor. An ethnographic exploration of digital museum discourse.

15.15 Coffee break

15.45 Sofie Decock (Ghent University) Dealing with multilingual customer complaints: methodological concerns and open issues.

16.30. Piia Varis (Tilburg University) Tracing multilingual practices – online and offline?

17.15. Closing

For additional details and abstracts of sessions download the detailed call here: CALL LEF final workshop on multilingual practices in mediatized communication