Exploring the role of language in knowledge-building

In recent years, knowledge has become a buzzword.  We speak about “the knowledge economy” and “knowledge workers”, but surprisingly little research focuses on knowledge itself: how it is structured and transmitted, and how it relates to knowers.  Language is the primary means by which knowledge is built and shared, but few people have studied the relationship between language and knowledge.  This research project uses Legitimation Code Theory (LCT), a rapidly developing theoretical framework based on Bernstein’s sociology of education which is increasingly being used in linguistic study (particularly with Systemic Functional Linguistics) to investigate how language is used to build and share knowledge.

The project is funded by an NRF Thuthuka Grant awarded to Ian Siebörger to support work on his PhD thesis, entitled “Political constellations: a Systemic Functional Linguistics and Legitimation Code Theory analysis of representations of South African political parties in the Daily Sun and Business Day”.  In his PhD, Ian is investigating how two prominent South African newspapers work to build common-sense political knowledge. Despite this, the project is not limited to only one type of knowledge or one group of knowers; the emphasis is more on the finer details of how language is used to build knowledge in general.  Linked to Ian’s NRF grant is a Master’s bursary and two Honours / third-year student assistantships for students who are also involved in the project.  More information about these funding opportunities is available at this link: http://www.ru.ac.za/englishlanguageandlinguistics/latestnews/postgraduateandthird-yearfundingavailable.html

Prospective postgraduate students interested in becoming part of this project can sign up for Ian’s postgraduate module, “Language and Knowledge”, offered once a year as a “compact module” with one week’s contact sessions preceded by four weeks of self-study and followed by four weeks in which students have a chance to investigate knowledge-building through writing their own research papers.

This module is particularly helpful for those interested in educational linguistics and analysing classroom discourse.  It is valuable for those interested in analysing discourses in any context to understand how texts are used to build and package knowledge in ideologically-biased ways.  The emphasis will be on how LCT can be combined with linguistic study to offer a new perspective on students’ research areas, and students are introduced to many examples of LCT in action in linguistic research.

For more information on this research project or the “Language and Knowledge” postgraduate module, email Ian at ian.sieborger@ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:57:29 SAST