Sociolinguistics of Pop Culture 
(30–31 March 2023)

The conference explicitly engages with pop culture, which, in its diverse manifestations, is a ubiquitous phenomenon where the linguistic sign interacts with other modes of communication (e.g., text and image, text and music, etc.). Pop culture can largely be viewed as a globalized, commercial, entertainment-related activity with a focus on “the active process of generating and circulating meanings and pleasures within a social system” (Fiske 2011). Although pop culture is readily recognized as a major cultural force in present-day globalizing societies, the academic discipline of sociolinguistics, with its focus on “real” (i.e., unplanned, natural, spontaneous) language as the locus of linguistic variation and change, has traditionally sidelined the study of performed (i.e., scripted, fictional and mediatized) language. However, we seem to be witnessing a turning point. Sociolinguists have recently begun to examine pop culture artifacts such as songs, TV shows, movies, video clips, comics, and various electronic registers in a systematic manner.

Thus, performed language associated with pop culture and mass-media distribution has been accepted as an important form of everyday language in society. As the sociolinguistic study of pop culture has been increasingly normalized, also the socially transformative potential of pop culture has been recognized in terms of determining people’s knowledge, opinions, and values. To map this development, the conference aims to showcase recent sociolinguistic approaches to the language of pop culture and how they serve to address core sociolinguistic concerns from novel perspectives.

Relevant (and potentially interrelated) topics include:

  • style and stylization, alongside specific associated approaches such as audience and referee design;
  • the representation of dialects and non-standard varieties and issues related to indexicality, identity and enregisterement, as well as linguistic stereotyping, language ideologies and identity performance;
  • raciolinguistics and gender issues;
  • social networks and speech communities, including specific concerns such as code-switching, multilingualism and super-diversity;
  • diachronic sociolinguistic change.

With the conference we intend to highlight (i) the various functions of largely scripted and performed language in processes of contemporary social representation and (ii) the role of sociolinguistics as a versatile empirical subdiscipline that offers a wide range of perspectives on pop cultural texts. Thus, the conference is motivated by the objective to provide a dedicated meeting ground for international researchers from diverse methodological and theoretical backgrounds to present their sociolinguistic work on pop culture manifestations, emphasizing the potential that sociolinguistic approaches possess for understanding pop culture as a multifaceted and heterogeneous phenomenon. The conference covers a large variety of pop culture genres, which are examined at the interface of sociolinguistics and related subdisciplines, such as stylistics, corpus linguistics, multimodal studies, (critical) discourse analysis, and diachronic linguistics. Through this, we aim to arrive at a comprehensive sociolinguistic account of the diverse manifestations, functions and types of potential linguistic impact of pop culture.

We're happy to announce that Robin Queen(University of Michigan) and Joe Trotta (University of Gothenburg) have agreed to deliver keynote speeches.

Sociolinguistics of Pop Culture is jointly organized by Cecelia Cutler (City University New York), Andrew Moody (University of Macau) & Valentin Werner (University of Bamberg).


This event is supported by