In this course we will examine the issues of power and how it relates to language use in various institutions such as law, medicine, and business among others. Language presents one of the most important (but not exclusive) power resources. We will learn that language can be both powerful and empowering. We will discuss how people in power can influence the ways in which language is used, and exercise control over access to language by others. We will also examine examples of how these others, in their turn, can contest and negotiate power. In language power can be expressed in a more or less overt ways. To minimize opposition, for example, power is increasingly exercised covertly or indirectly in different institutions. A particularly attractive feature of the course is that we will examine real-life language data collected in a number of Hong Kong institutions. We will also discuss similarities and the differences in institutional language practices across different sociocultural contexts, including Hong Kong and other countries and Asia and beyond.
Topic 1: Introducing key concepts: language and power
Topic 2: Language and power in institutions and at a workplace
Topic 3: Language, power and media
Topic 4: Language, power and the law
Topic 5: Language, power and medicine
Topic 6: Language, power and business
Topic 7: Language, power and society
On completing this course, you will be able to:
- Develop a critical awareness of how language can be employed to enact, negotiate and contest power.
- Engage in the critical analysis of social issues, such as sexism, racism, and oppression through examining the language and power interrelation in authentic institutional discourses.
- Apply the knowledge of how language can be both powerful and empowering to novel institutional settings.
- Develop a critical understanding of how language and power interact in various sociocultural contexts.
- Engage in group interaction and communicate their viewpoint by engaging in group discussions.
|Activities||Number of hours|
|Reading / Self-study||60|
|Assessment: Tutorial participation||5|
|Assessment: Essay/report writing||20|
|Assessment Method||Details of Assignment||Weighting|
Students in small groups will identify a problem related to language use and power in an institution; locate relevant literature on the topic, analyze the language data, and present the results of the analysis (oral presentation & written portfolio).
Participation in tutorial classes
Student participation and discussion contributions in tutorial classes.
- Simpson, P., Mayr, A., & Statham S. (2019). Language and power: A resource book for students (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. [Chap. A “Introduction: Key topics in the study of language and power”].
- Mooney, A., & Evans, B. (2015). Language, society, and power: An introduction (4th ed.). London: Routledge. [Chap. 4 “Language and the media”].
- Locke, T. (2004). Critical discourse analysis. London: Continuum. [Chap. 3 “The critical turn: Making discourse analysis critical].
- Lazar, M. (2007). Feminist critical discourse analysis: Articulating a feminist discourse praxis. Critical Discourse Studies, 4(2), 141-164. From https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900701464816
There is no official textbook for the course. Additional reading materials will be provided in lectures and tutorial sessions.