“The ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group.” ~ Edward Sapir
Hey yall! Today’s topic is about the Socio-Cultural Tradition. Yes, yes I know we’ve been learning about traditions for a few weeks now but we’re almost done so just be patient.
After this, there are just 2 more traditions to go, yay! Now back to my main focus for today… The Socio-Cultural Tradition.
Theorists of this tradition view communication as the creation and enactment of social reality. Now you may or may not be wondering what social reality is. For those of you who are curious, social reality is all around us. Our social reality pretty much comes from our beliefs and opinions as a group of people or a society as a whole. The socio-cultural tradition is based on the premise that as people talk, they produce and reproduce culture. Most of us assume that words reflect what actually exists. Theorists believe that our view of reality is strongly shaped by the language we’ve used since we were toddlers… that’s quite interesting, isn’t it?
The diagram above should kind of give you a visual example of how the levels of cognition and social reality are formed. This tradition was developed by a known linguist named Edward Sapir and his student Benjamin Lee Whorf. As a result of them working side by side and learning from each other, they developed the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity states that the structure of a culture’s language shapes what people think and do.
If you examine the theory of linguistic relativity, you’ll realize that it does not agree with the belief that words merely act as neutral vehicles to carry meaning. The main thing that drives our perception of reality is language. Our culture plays an important role in the way speak and how we interpret things. This tradition also focuses on how identities are created through our interactions within social groups and different cultures. It is through our interaction with people that we gain a better understanding of the world and create our own reality. So the theorists believe that language actually structures our perception of reality.
Now that we’ve got the above covered, I’ll be moving on smartly. Like all the traditions I’ve talked about so far, you’ll realize that each tradition has it’s own variations (that’s if you’ve been following, of course).
Variations in the Socio-cultural Tradition:
Symbolic Interactionism – This deals with the way people relate to things based on the meanings these things have to them through social interaction.
Social Constructionism – This is based on the idea that our human knowledge is constructed through interaction (which seems pretty fair to me). The conclusion of this is that the language to name, discuss and orient the world is more important than the nature of that world.
Sociolinguistics – This has to do with how people use language differently in social and cultural groups and therefore, language is not a neutral vehicle but one that influences who we are as social and cultural beings.
Philosophy of Language – This simply means that the meaning of language depends on it’s actual use. I’m sure we all can we relate to this because some words and phrases can have different meanings, based on it’s context.
Ethnography – Observation of how social groups come to construct meaning through their linguistic and non-linguistic behaviours.
Ethnomethodology – Careful observation of micro-behaviours manage or mesh behaviours at actual moments in time.
After discussing the above, you’ll begin to see that culture is all around us and it is the basis of who we are and how we communicate, whether we realize it or not. That’s it for now guys! Until next time. ♥