Decolonizing sociolinguistics through the aegis of the grounded theory method


Bio: "I have two Masters degrees, one in French language and literature and the other in English. Mt first thesis was about a sociolinguistic analysis of Shakespearean female characters. The MPhil dissertation compared translation related features of English and Urdu short stories. For my PhD dissertation, I again made a comparative study of English and Urdu (the national language of Pakistan). For this sociolinguistic project, I decided to introduce grounded theory methodology in order to theorize the place of the two important languages in Pakistan. My research interests include"

I define sociolinguistics simply as the study of language and society without emphasising one over the other and leaving it to the individual studies how they want to negotiate the preference . Traditional sociolinguistic analyses tend to produce quantitative insights more than anything else-relying on hypothesis testing; predictions and generalisations. Theory generation is almost a foreign thought to many working in this field and is left to the few big names (mostly residing in the West) of the discipline. For us; scholars living in the East (Pakistan is a former British colony); the feeling is of double colonisation- colonisation (restriction) by the research methods put into place by our former colonizers. No matter how unique a research problem is; we are encouraged to test; at times; inadequate and extant theories formulated by the Western scholars that can; at best; partially explain the phenomenon. This is the point where the grounded theory method moves in. It provides a robust theory building methodology and is applied in situations where there is a need for fresh theorizing. This session intends to make a case for using the grounded theory method for theorizing sociolinguistic situations.