Chapter 5: Linguistic Perspectives in Qualitative Research in Education: A Brief History
Judith Green and Anissa Stewart Over the past six decades qualitative researchers in education, grounded in developments in linguistics, have contributed to systematic empirical qualitative approaches to studying what is accomplished in and through language in use in educational settings. These developments are intertwined with developments in anthropology, education, linguistics, and sociology, among other fields, in which a linguistic perspective is used to address areas of interest to the discipline. In this chapter, we examine developments across programs of research that today constitute a field called ‘language and education’ – (Corson, 1997; Hornberger, 2008) for example, anthropological linguistics, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, discourse analysis, ethnomethodology, ethnography of communication, microethnography, narrative analysis, sociolinguistics, and sociology of language.1 Two interdependent goals guide our approach. The first goal is to describe the roots of social, cultural, and linguistic challenges in education that the programs of research were developed to address, and how the conceptual focus on ‘language in use’ provides an empirical, grounded approach to understanding how language is constitutive of educational processes as well as an outcome of the work of people in formal and informal educational settings. The second goal is to make visible a developing set of conceptual principles (Heath, 1982; Green et al., in press), ‘logic of inquiry’ (orienting theory/theories), underlying the conceptualization of language in use ‘as epistemology’, as a way of knowing, not a method (Agar, 2006). By focusing on epistemological decisions, we make visible conceptual principles guiding qualitative researchers and through these principles make ‘transparent’ what...
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