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Language and Power

3. Class and Social Capital

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the relationship between language and class and social capital, focusing in particular on: (i) the concept of social class, including the concepts of social and cultural capital; (ii) the importance of language in determining one's class, including the importance of Standard English, the prevalence of and prejudice against 'non-standard' English and the concept of standard language ideology; and (iii) the importance of context in determining one's social and cultural capital.

Reading list:
– William Hollmann, 'Five Things People get Wrong about Standard English', The Conversation, 8 October 2021


In this course, Professor Annabelle Mooney (University of Roehampton) explores the relationship between language in power. In the first module, we explore the concept of speech acts and Jakobson's six functions of language. After that, we introduce three frameworks for analysing language and power, including Saussere's concept of the (bilateral) sign, Jakobson's concept of the axes of selection and combination, and the concept of constraints and affordances. In the third module, we think about the relationship between language and class and social capital, before turning in the fourth module to the relationship between language and power in the context of the law. In the fifth module, we think about the use of language – especially signs – in transforming spaces into places, before turning in the sixth module to consider some aspects of language and power in relation to money and economics, including the concept of cognitive metaphors and the reason that conspiracy theorists are so wedded to their ideas. Each module comes with a few suggestions for wider reading.


Annabelle Mooney is Professor of Language and Society at the University of Roehampton. Her research focuses on the language of waste and the language used by 'ordinary' people in order to better understand human culture, communication and relationships with the world. Her recent publications include The Language of Money: Proverbs and Practices (2018) and (as co-author) Language, Society and Power: An Introduction (2018).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Mooney, A. (2022, April 11). Language and Power - Class and Social Capital [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Mooney, A. "Language and Power – Class and Social Capital." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022,