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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 continues research begun with Ian Siebörger's PhD thesis, entitled “Political constellations: an analysis of
the use of language in positioning South African political parties in the Daily Sun”.  In this PhD, Ian investigated how South Africa's biggest-selling tabloid newspaper, the Daily Sun, works 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. 

Prospective postgraduate students interested in becoming part of this project can sign up for Ian’s postgraduate module, “Language and Knowledge”, offered annually.  In the module, students have a chance to investigate knowledge-building in their own chosen objects of study.

This project would be particularly interesting for people with interests in educational linguistics and analysing classroom discourse.  The emphasis is on how LCT can be combined with linguistic study to offer a new perspective on diverse knowledge practices, 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: Wed, 15 Jul 2020 21:01:35 SAST