An individual whose contacts tend not to know each other belong to an open network. Closed networks are said to be of high density: open networks are said to be of low density. Moreover, the links between people may be of different kinds: people can relate to each other as relatives, as neighbours, as workmates, as friends. Where individuals are linked in several ways, e.
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Sociolinguistics Language and Social Networks Sociolinguistic surveys have shown that language variation cannot only be found among groups with varying socio-economic status but also within one group. Following the regular class pattern, we could expect the members of one socio-economic status group to show uniform linguistic behaviour. Obviously this is not the case in reality. Even speakers with the same socio-economic status are characterized by their varying use of language.
Consequently, there must be other significant factors than such static social variables as class or gender which can account for linguistic variation. The concept of the social network was introduced to the field of sociolinguistics by Lesley and James Milroy. In her study of three working-class communities in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Lesley Milroy found significant deviations from the classic class and gender pattern.
A social network is an abstract mechanism that denotes the social relationships an individual contracts with other individuals in a society. Chambers 67 : families, friends, neighbourhoods, etc. The character of a social network is defined by the contact patterns between its members How many members know each other and how well do they know each other?
The structure of a network can be determined by the factors of density and multiplexity. Multiplexity refers to any factor or link that can deepen a social relationship, e. Their social ties are multiplex in character.
Language use depends on how deeply a member is integrated into a particular social network. Social networks are characterized by network-specific norms and values including norms of language use. The more an individual is integrated into a social network, the more s he will adhere linguistically to the existing norms and values of this network. The concept of the social network illustrates the significance of the factor of social contact to other speakers and their linguistic varieties for the occurrence of linguistic variation.
Social network (sociolinguistics)
Fieldwork[ edit ] Social networks are used in sociolinguistics to explain linguistic variation in terms of community norms, rather than broad categories like gender or race. In an effort to depart from variationist sociolinguistics ,  the concept of the social network has been used to examine the links between the strength of network ties and the use of a linguistic variant. The concept of social networks is applicable at both the macro and micro levels. Social networks are at work in communities as large as nation-states or as small as an online dating service. They can also be applied to intimate social groups such as a friendship, family unit, or neighborhood. Because even the smallest of networks contains an enormous number of potential connections between actors, sociolinguists usually only study small networks so that the fieldwork is manageable.
Language and Social Networks
A person whose personal contacts all know each other belong to a closed network. An individual whose contacts tend not to know each other belong to an open network. Closed networks are said to be of high density: open networks are said to be of low density. Moreover, the links between people may be of different kinds: people can relate to each other as relatives, as neighbours, as workmates, as friends. Where individuals are linked in several ways, e. Relatively dense networks, it is claimed, function as norm-enforcement mechanisms. In the case of language, this means that a closely-knit group will have the capacity to enforce linguistic norms.