Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Linguistic diversity and social cohesion in urban spaces

Organisator(en) Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin & ZAS
Veranstaltungsbeginn 17.02.2020, 09.15 Uhr
Veranstaltungsende 17.02.2020, 18.00 Uhr
Ort Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Room 2249A (Main building), Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin


Background. It is by now a well-known fact that factors such as increasing globalization, population growth, or refugee movements in many regions of the world are leading to growing mobility and migration worldwide, the goal of which are often urban centers. In this way, such places become spaces with a particularly rich linguistic diversity, which at the same time represents an invaluable resource and a great challenge for social cohesion in the urban societies (Mattu 2010; Schaeffer 2014; Arnaut et al. 2015; Coleman 2015; Matras & Robertson 2017). Since language is both the central means of communication and an important identity marker it has a dual effect on social cohesion: as a medium of communication within and across groups and to the outside world, as well as a group-constituting, delimiting feature.

Research Questions. This situation opens up new research perspectives: What role do factors such as the size of its community, its external contacts, status and visibility in the region of origin and in the new home play in the social significance of a language? Which linguistic attitudes and strategies of action do speakers bring with them or do they develop in the new urban context? How do they construct and use multilingualism and identity through codeswitching, codemixing, translanguaging? What are the effects of increasing linguistic diversity in urban areas on the social cohesion of urban society?

Goals. These and related questions will be the topic of a one-day transdisciplinary workshop organized by linguists and social scientists of Humboldt-Universität, Freie Universität Berlin, and Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS). We bring together linguists, anthropologists, social and cultural scientists working on linguistic diversity, multilingualism and social cohesion in urban areas. The workshop aims at discussing diverse methodological and (trans)disciplinary approaches – including mixed methods, investigation of language practices (Pennycook & Otsuji 2015, Heyd et al. eds. 2019), ethnolinguistic vitality (Ehala 2015), and social network analyses – to researching language as a carrier of cultural and social identity and the role of language use for social cohesion in urban areas.

We kindly ask you to RSVP to  julian.rott@hu-berlin.de if you plan to attend.