Bourdieu's Theory Of Language Analysis

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According to Bernstein, social status is the substratum of the linguistic process; this is produced by the social environment which becomes the psychological reality and shapes the kind of speech one produces. Thus, the language produced will show some preferences, which are stabilized through time and “eventually come to play an important role in the regulation of intellectual, social and affective orientation” (1971, p.98). Consequently, children who grew up in different social environments will adopt different speech systems or linguistic codes. To this end, Bernstein distinguishes between elaborated and restricted codes; he formulated this theory in order to explain the success at school of middle-class children compared to pupils coming …show more content…
Based on this, he elaborated the concept of legitimate language and of cultural capital. The legitimate language is defined as “the norm against which all linguistic practices are objectively measured” (1982, p. 404). This language is officially recognized and it is the one produced by speakers possessing practical mastery of scholarly rules, acquired through family and educational system; being able to speak the legitimate language, according to Bourdieu, will determine a person’s socio-economic success. The concept of legitimate language is strictly linked with the one of habitus and of cultural capital; the latter consists of “familiarity with the dominant culture in a society, and especially the ability to understand and use ‘educated’ language” (Bourdieu, 1977, p. 494), the possession of cultural capital depends on social class, hence, it is acquired through family. For Bourdieu, capital is rigidly symbolic, is expressed in terms of money, as well as a product of high-education credentials such as accent, vocabulary but also books and institutions like schools and universities; earning a degree from an elite institution often may lead to an high paid and successful job oppositely to an ordinary school (James, 2011). Similarly, habitus is also …show more content…
Additionally, they both focused on class based relation to language, it can be said that the counterpart to Bourdieu’s cultural and linguistic capital is Bernstein’s codes theory. Both are transmitted through family and depending on the social environment of the individual. This is also shared with Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, being strictly socially-constituted and closed

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