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Published on Thursday, September 12, 2019


The fourth forum of Sociology will take place 14-18 July 2020 in Porto Alegre (Brazil). In line with the general Congress theme, “Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Intersectionality”, the RC 25 theme is “Looking at Language to Shed Light on Challenges”.


The Fourth Forum of Sociology will take place 14-18 July 2020 in Porto Alegre (Brazil). In line with the general Congress theme, “Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Intersectionality”, the RC 25 theme is “Looking at Language to Shed Light on Challenges”.

Abstract submission

Research Committee 25 will be organizing 18 sessions during the Fourth ISA Forum in Porto Alegre (including the business meeting, a networking session, and Joint Sessions). To take part in the RC25 program, you must submit an abstract (300 words) through the ISA Online system. An overview of all RC25 sessions can be found on the ISA website.

The deadline for abstracts submission is 30 September, 2019;

no abstract can be accepted by any session organizer or program coordinators after that date.

Acceptance, registration, membership and grants

Notification of abstract acceptance will be sent to authors by 2 December, 2019.

To be included in the program, the participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) must pay the ISA Forum registration fees by March 19, 2020.

Presenters who fail to register will be automatically deleted from the Program Book and from the Abstracts Book. For co-authored paper, in order for a paper to appear in the program, at least one co-author should pay the registration fee by the early registration deadline March 19, 2020; the names of other co-authors will be listed as well. If other co-authors wish to attend the conference they must pay the registration fee. Please, note that a limited number of ISA registration grants will be available after abstracts acceptance.

RC25 requires that at least one presenter per accepted paper is member of both ISA and RC25. The number of sessions the RC is able to offer to the Language and Society community is indeed based of our membership.

List of sessions within the RC25 prorgram

Social Epistemologies for Social Justice

  • Organizer: Celine-Marie Pascale, American University, Unites States of America, pascale@american.edu

The practical work of scientific research necessarily reproduces culturally specific assumptions among dominant groups regarding how the world exists and what matters most. Indeed the “ways of knowing” that have been privileged by academics in dominant cultures continue to be a site of contention and resistance—particularly for those who have been constructed as “Other” in these discourses. If scholars accept that all knowledge is socially constructed and historically situated, we must also understand social research methods and methodologies as historically produced social formations that were created by and for those producing hegemonic forms of knowledge. Sociological studies of language are uniquely positioned to pursue transdisciplinary scholarship that challenges post-positivist epistemologies.

This is a call for papers that explore the practical work of envisioning the transformation of methods and methodologies. The session welcomes all alternatives to hegemonic social science epistemologies. In particular it seeks but is not limited to:

  • Social epistemologies that get at social routes to knowledge and the circulation of power
  • The production of particular kinds of presence and absence in social research
  • Methods capable of examining the citationality of representation and the politics of knowledge production
  • Critiques of the methodological constraints on sociological studies of language

Submit here (session in English)

The Language That Surrounds Us

This session will feature papers that examine language deployed in public spaces – a sub-field of linguistics commonly known as linguistic landscapes (LL). Over the course of the last two decades, linguistic landscape research has shifted from a predominantly quantitative approach in which instances of particular languages in public spaces are counted, with an eye toward gauging ethnolinguistic vitality, to a more ethnographic approach that employs qualitative analysis of photographic and interview data, focusing attention on the relationships between particular linguistic landscape elements and the populations that engage with them. Elana Shohamy (2015) points out that “LL is grounded in a number of diverse disciplines which focus on multiple dimensions of public spaces; these include: sociology, law, language policy, language learning, tourism, geography, psychology, economics and architecture” (p. 153). But despite the appearance of sociology at the top of this list, linguistic landscape research has not been featured prominently at ISA congresses and forums. This session aims to address this, inviting papers that explore the linguistic forms, political actions, and cultural messages realised in the language of public spaces – not only the typical linguistic landscape terrain of written language in public signage, but also other ‘semiotic landscapes,’ such as soundscapes (e.g., public announcements, radio broadcasts), netscapes (language used on the Internet), skinscapes (tattoos), and other mobile linguistic landscape elements (e.g., t-shirt messages, car bumper stickers, menus).

Shohamy, E. (2015). LL research as expanding language and language policy. Linguistic Landscape: An international journal, 1(1-2), 152-171.

Submit here (session in English)

Language and Inequality in an Age of Globalization

  • Organizer: Kathleen Tacelosky, Lebanon Valley College, Unites States of America, tacelosk@lvc.edu

Migration, broadly understood as the movement of people, and the associated movement of goods – both tangible and intangible – means that language and linguistic varieties are on the move and that linguistic identities are in flux. Unequal access to valued linguistic resources and the devaluation of subaltern linguistic varieties reveal and contribute to other social inequities. Mechanisms of linguistic inequity include linguistic prescriptivism, gatekeepers and judgement by entities with real or perceived power and authority.

In this session we examine language to illuminate issues of injustice and inequality in an age of globalization and in the context of language(s) on the move.

This session invites submissions including, but not limited to, the following questions:

  • How do ideologies that privilege monolingualism or prestige varieties manifest in this age of globalization?
  • What kinds of micro-linguistic practices promote inequity when transnational persons are required to act linguistically in a local context (such as school, workplace or public spaces) where they may or may not have full access to linguistic resources?
  • How does “the capacity for semiotic mobility” (Blommaert 2005:69) affect individual and group inequality?

Our work in this session is not only to investigate linguistic realities in transnational contexts, but to explore implications, and perhaps offer suggestions, regarding the reduction of inequity.

Submit here (session in English)

Languages for Multiplied Democracies

Authoritarianism and dictatorship have long been the nemeses of democracy, but the 21st Century has seen the rise of other threats that are internal. In the last few years, ‘rejection of the system’ discourses have proliferated in some of the world’s lead democracies as well as in budding ones. The ‘not-my-president’ rallies following the triumph of Donald Trump and the charged debate around Brexit exemplify voters’ feelings of disenfranchisement by systems that underwrite global democratic ideals.  Expressions of dissatisfaction in the free world are not far removed from those in burgeoning democracies ushered in by revolutions in the Arab world (2010-2011 Arab Spring) or the ballot in Africa (Kenya, Zimbabwe and the DRC), Asia (Myanmar and the Philippines) and South America (Venezuela). The common denominator in the disputation of electoral results, the critique of democratic institutions, and even the celebration of the victors is that they are all in the name of democracy. Thus, appeals to democracy is now a factor in the discourses of democratic, populist and extremist regimes. The question of our time is: have democratic ideals been reduced to rhetorical strategies that serve the goals of those that spin the best tale? Given that democracy is discursively constructed, a critical analysis of talk about and around it can reveal forces that weaken democracy from within. We welcome abstracts for papers that view the challenge of democracy through the lens of talk. The abstracts may come from various background such as sociology, linguistics, political science or governance studies.

Submit here (session in English)

Power Relations and (in)Equalities in Data Production in Language Oriented Research

This session addresses methodological challenges in language oriented research where there is an increasing emphasis on the value of ”naturally occurring” talk and texts. Such data is often contrasted with data provoked by a researcher, for example interviews. However, the distinction between naturally occurring and researcher provoked data can be problematized, e.g. the former implies that talk and texts may occur “untouched” without regard to an observing researcher producing fieldnotes and adapting transcription routines. More, the designation “researcher provoked data” suggests that interactions with a researcher should somehow be inherently unnatural. However, observations, just like interviews, are always made from a particular position linked to a certain "gaze" on the field, as well as on the collected data.

Rather than viewing the researcher's impact as unwanted bias, this session encourages submissions that acknowledge the researcher's position as a constitutive part of the research process. Moving beyond conceptions of the "neutral observer", submissions are encouraged that attend to intersectional aspects of data collection. Intersectionality recognizes how power structures affect and are an inevitable aspect of the research process, and points to the need to put data in its context as well as to systematically reflect on the researcher's position, regardless of the method used. Submissions may include a diversity of language oriented methods, including but not limited to observations, sound and video recordings and interviews. Papers that discuss, problematize and develop conceptions of the researcher's role in knowledge production when different types of data are combined are especially welcome.

Submit here (session in English)

Languages and Quantitative Methods

  • Organizer: Guillermina Jasso, New York University, Unites States of America, gj1@nyu.edu

Sociological research is carried out in a variety of languages -- indeed, potentially in as many languages as are spoken in the world.  In the sociology of language, the objective is to directly look at language in order to shed light on social phenomena by analyzing discourses, categorizations, speech acts, etc.

Sociology has made great strides in finding the right words to express the behavioral and social phenomena of interest, including across many languages, as evident in the large international surveys such as the World Values Survey. This is an asset for comparative research. Yet there remain many challenges in going from thoughts to words to numbers both in relation to the understanding of specific challenges enlightened by looking at language, and to the diversity of languages. The access to a huge corpus in a digital age also reinforces these challenges; for example, one question would be what are the ongoing developments in the sociology of language in relation to big data. The people who provide data (respondents, interviewees, journalists, etc.) may differ in preferences for how they produce and use the language objects that are researched -- and these preferences may be linked to language.

This session welcomes submissions on any aspect or dimension of quantitative methods in the research process toward language. The session will be a regular paper session.

Submit here (session in English)

Linguistic Diversity and Social Stratification

Organizer: Cecilio Lapresta-Rey, Universidad de Lleida, Spain, clapresta@geosoc.udl.cat, Amado Alarcon Alarcon, University of Texas at El Paso / University Rovira i Virgili, Unites States of America / Spain, amado.alarcon@urv.cat

In the current globalized world, linguistic diversity is the norm, rather than the exception. So much so, that in situations of contact between languages, linguistic knowledge becomes human or symbolic capital, which can lead to social stratification.

On this basis, language acquisition and usage, intergenerational transmission, language maintenance, its exchange value in the job market or the symbolic aspects of language are crucial elements in order to understand social inequalities derived from linguistic factors.

With this framework in mind, the objective of this session is to reflect and sociologically analyze all these processes in a broad sense, from various theoretical and methodological approaches.

Submit here (session in Spanish, French and English)

Literacies. Sociological Approaches.

  • Organizer: Amado Alarcon Alarcon, University of Texas at El Paso / University Rovira i Virgili, Unites States of America / Spain, amado.alarcon@urv.cat

This session aims to contribute to the sociological understanding of language in the XXI century as a complex and (yet) indeterminate number of literacies. Since in the informational era information is linguistically coded, language codes and literacies includes, under a broad conception of language: writing systems, active listening, HTTP human-machine digital languages, mathematical languages or technical jargons, among many others.

Sociologically, the mastering of these codes and old and new forms of literacies are related to social stratification systems, it is, linked to different forms of hierarchies, as well to specific inclusion and exclusion procesess, particularly evident and represented in educational and labor systems. Different approaches to the question of literacies in the century turn has been done under the labels of skills and qualifications and recognized by public authorities as key components of employability and productivity in today’s advanced economies.

This session welcomes sociological research of literacies and language codes under the following debates:

  • Sociological notions of literacies and its relations with skills and qualifications
  • Phenomenological approaches to complexity of literacies at work and education
  • Marxist discussion on literacies and deskilling
  • Weberian approaches to the role of new literacies on control and power within organizations
  • Debates on how positivistic approaches are analyzing literacies in surveys and researches.
  • Relevance of literacies within social organization, inclusion and excusion processes

Submit here (session in English)

The Language of Health and Healthcare Toward Democratizing Insights

Health care systems face numerous, complex and systemic challenges that are reflective of and affect the health of populations, while deepening inequities for the most vulnerable in society. By considering health inequities looking at language and discourse, this session examines the challenges raised by the complexity of health care and the interaction of its agents. The session focuses on vulnerable populations and how the participation of vulnerable people as citizen-agents is shaped by and shapes the way healthcare policies, organizations and professionals respond to them, and how society adapts to address current challenges. This session welcomes presentations that examine how language and discourse have and can shed light on current healthcare challenges (in various practical domains such as access to and quality of care, and the use of social or online information support) that constitute health experiences and outcomes, in the ambition of enhancing the health, and thereby democratic capabilities, of vulnerable individuals and their societies.

Submit here (session in Spanish, French and English)

Framing Hate: Media, Politics, and the Legitimization of Hate Speech

  • Organizer: Trinidad Valle, Fordham University, Unites States of America, valle@fordham.edu

The last decade has provided an increased visibility and normalization of discourses of hate and exclusions in the public arena. As politicians and media figures engage in anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, and racist language (sometimes in explicit forms, and in other cases in the form of coded language), we see how this language is recycled through the vast universe of media channels.

The session proposes to explore how such discourses have been structured in different contexts, what are the main frames used to legitimize and normalize discourses of hate and exclusion, what are their social consequences, and what are possible strategies to challenge them. Papers are encouraged to address some of the following issues:

  • Language as action: What is the role of hate speech as a form of action, as performative language? What are its consequences?
  • What is the role of the media in providing platforms for hate speech? What is the role of mainstream media when covering hate speech? What is the role of social media in allowing the expression of hate speech? What forms of accountability should be designed?
  • What is the role of social movements in challenging such forms of hate speech? What type of counter-discourses can be constructed?
  •  Political reactions, media coverage, hate crimes, and van Dijk “ideological square”. Who is framed as “terrorist”? For example, what is the role of politicians and media in framing acts of violence committed by white supremacists as issues of “mental illness” instead of “terrorist attacks”?

Submit here (session in Spanish and English)

Language and Society Open Session

Keiji FUJIYOSHI, Otemon Gakuin University, Japan, fjosh524@hotmail.com  

This session welcomes papers which address any aspects of language and society.

Submit here (session in English)

RC25 joint sessions

Linguistic Integration of the Descendants of Migrants

RC25 Language and Society (host committee) / RC31 Sociology of Migration


Undoubtedly, one of the main challenges that current societies face is the incorporation of the descendants of international immigrants. This is the case not only in Western societies, but also in other regions of the planet where horizontal migrations take place.

Among the different dimensions of the accommodation process, language is one of the most important aspects. Its influence ranges from the acquisition of the language(s) of the society, which influence integration in the school or the workplace, to the symbolic value of the majority and heritage language(s), that connect with factors such as identity and culture. All this has important repercussions in their socio-educational, socio-cultural, identitary and work integration.

Therefore, the main objective of this joint session is to include proposals that reflect and analyze the wide spectrum of linguistic processes that influence the integration of the descendants of migrants, from different theoretical and methodological approaches.

Submit here (session in Spanish, French and English)

Discourses on Poverty, Homelessness, and Housing: Categorization in Policy, Media, Academy, Popular Culture and Beyond

RC25 Language and Society (host committee) / RC43 Housing and Built Environment


Discursive representations of poverty and homelessnes in policy, the media, academic research, and popular culture influences how we perceive and react to social vulnerability, and how we relate to homeless and poor people. On one hand, naturalizing poverty and homelessness are partially discursive social problems. On the other hand, because language and society is a two-way relationship, these representations are also products of social practices and relations.

Discourse and critical discourse studies seek to bridge the gap between theory based on language and other semiotic systems and research that explores the roles of language (and other semiotics) in contextualized social practices. These efforts rely on theoretical bodies of language in society from the social sciences, to focus on how language functions in social life, as modes of representation and action. Because power depends not only on the use of force, but also on manufacturing consent, discourse is a crucial element for supporting/overcoming hegemonic relations in a given historical context.

Social injustice can become naturalized in texts when we employ classifications that legitimize differences. As a result, vulnerable groups can be stripped of their rights, undermining their ability to articulate experience and resist. Prejudiced representations of homeless and poor people must be addressed in different social-discourse spaces including media, policy, academic research, popular culture, etc., and its potential social and political effects. This session thus seeks to look at the representation of these vulnerable social groups in different kinds of discursive places, using a variety of theoretical backgrounds and methodological tools.

Submit here (session in English)

The Use of Language in Media, Disruptions in Hegemonic Meanings, and the Resistance to Gender Violence

RC25 Language and Society (host committee) / RC32 Women in Society


Gender violence is one of the most urgent and persistent problems in societies all around the world and a priority for international institutions such as the United Nations that tackles the problem in several of the Sustainable Development Goals, among them Goal 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender and the behavior related to gender is socially constructed, thus, something that we learn and do. One of the main agents of socialization nowadays is media in all its forms—films, television, music, books, advertising, YouTube videos, etc. Research has already outlined the role of media in shaping peoples’ understanding of gender. Furthermore, the devastating impact that media can have on promoting violence against women and girls has been highlighted. However, media can also serve as a tool for the prevention of gender violence. In this Joint Session between RC25 Language and Society and RC32 Women, Gender and Society, we encourage authors to present their work on the use of language and other forms of text in media related to gender violence. While research on the negative effects of media is more numerous, we would especially encourage authors to focus on those results or experiences that help us understand how media-based language/text can help to resist gender violence. For instance, research that includes social contexts either within or outside of formal institutions that make more legible verbal and nonverbal language that represents changes in the forms of resistance to gender violence.

Submit here (session in English)

Categorizing ‘Races’ and ‘Ethnicities’? Actors, Interests, Codifications, and Implications

RC25 Language and Society (host committee) / RC05 Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnicity


This session is concerned with ongoing evolving categorizations of “races” and “ethnicities”. Indeed, as categorizations are at the heart of actors’ preferences and behaviours, and of diverse interests, they may experience changes, but also looking at them and how they are influenced may shed light on the evolutions of ongoing conflicts around them.

Are there categorizations which are appearing in contexts and situations that were previously less affected? Are there contexts and situations where such categorizations are becoming less used? How codifications change? How the content of categories change? Which are the current implications of the existing categories?

We invite contributions which shed light on how categorizations are constructed, by whom, with which implications in our current world, and while also facing contemporary challenges.

Submit here (session in English)

Work and Languages

RC25 Language and Society (host committee) / RC30 Sociology of Work


This session is concerned with links that exist between work and language.

The first objective of this session is to analyse current challenges of professionals who work with languages, either as a direct working tool (teachers, translators, researchers, editors, professionals in multilingual firms or working contexts, computer scientists and their various languages for coding, etc.) or indirectly (professions shaped by a given language – sailors on international ships for trade for instance -, professions that should be adapted following current global challenges, professions that are related to given mastering inside a language – as courtesy rules, protocol, etc. - , etc.).

The second objective of this session is to look at language as a part of work to shed light on how language is standardised in various working and organizational situations, but also how a common language is created at the workplace. How do contemporary challenges influence writing and speech at work?

Submit here (session in Spanish, French and English)

RC25 Program Coordinators

For more information about the IV Forum of Sociology, please visit:




  • Porto Alegre, Brazil


  • Monday, September 30, 2019


  • épistémologie, inégalité, démocratie, pouvoir, stratification sociale, diversité, méthodologie, santé, haine, migration, pauvreté, sans-abrisme,discours médiatique, genre, sociologie du travail, éthnicité


  • Stéphanie Cassilde
    courriel : stephanie [dot] cassilde [at] ronininstitute [dot] org

Information source

  • Stéphanie Cassilde
    courriel : stephanie [dot] cassilde [at] ronininstitute [dot] org


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Looking at language to shed light on contemporary challenges », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, September 12, 2019, https://doi.org/10.58079/13dk

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