Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Language and Societies abstracts, vol. 12 (2020)

The abstracts below are summaries of papers by early-career scholars from the 2020 edition of my course, Language and Societies. The authors are undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology and linguistics at Wayne State University. Comments and questions are extremely welcome, especially at this critical juncture, when the authors are making final revisions to their papers.

Ahmed Alaboosi: Modern Standard Arabic and The Iraqi Arabic Dialect: Prestige and Differences In Lexicon

Juliette André: Dishing it out on gentrification: Tracking narratives of urban redevelopment through Detroit restaurant reviews

Jessica Beatty: Discrimination on the Basis of Language Usage and Communication Disorders

Kate Blatchford: The City Beautiful Movement and Discourse on Urban Space

Agata Borowiecki: Late 20th Century Immigrants in South-Eastern Michigan on Identity, Bilingualism, and Benefit

Jeff Dempsey: The Hebrew Verb System: Changes in Time

Amanda Ford: “Death the great tyrant”: Epitaphs, social inequality, and resistance to acculturation in death

Georgina Gill: Inupiat Language Survival through the Video Game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Bethany Hedden: An EcoJustice Approach to Narratives of Emotions and Bodies: Do police call reports produce centric thinking and a discourse of rationalism?

Todd Hovey: “Shooting, Riding, and Speaking Manchu”: Manchu Language and Identity in Qing Institutions

Hannon Hylkema: Analyzing archaeological discourse: Narratives and arguments of interpreting Inca material culture

Nicole Markovic: Navigating Pronoun Use for Transgender and Gender Non-Binary Students in the Foreign Language Classroom

Joshua Medina: Ad Discourse, Mexico vs. United States: The Cultural Universalization of Coca-Cola

William D. Pizzimenti: Mail-order Muscles: A Comparative Analysis of Early 20th Century Mail-Order Fitness Advertisements, Courses, and Literature

Corrinne Sanger: PrEP, Risk, and the Potential for HIV: The power of public health discourse in a post-AIDS world

Erin Stanley: Cultivating deeper changes through uncovering root metaphors and modernist discourses in the AASWSW Grand Challenges for Social Work 

Laura Sutherland: Art engagement and agency on the websites of dementia care facilities in Michigan

Mikayla Swasey: ALKFJD: The changing metalinguistic understandings of keysmash practices

Elizabeth Watson: Gender(ed) “Equality” in the Home: Online Verbalizations of Experiences Dividing Household Labor

Matthew Worpell: Whatever do you meme? An analysis of the transformation in meaning of signs and symbols on 4chan

Shannon Yee: Minority language orthography and literacy: A case study of Swo in Cameroon

 

 

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | Leave a comment

Discrimination on the Basis of Language Usage and Communication Disorders

Discrimination on the Basis of Language Usage and Communication Disorders

Jessica Beatty

Lacking in skills pertaining to speech, language use, and comprehension creates a social barrier between those with communicative difficulties and those without such deficits. Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aphasia are two conditions which can heavily impact one’s ability to communicate effectively. This will be analyzed in regard to discrimination from others due to a lack of and/or difference in communicative forms. The prominence of discrimination in the lives of those with communication disorders is not the central focus of much previous research. Therefore, why discrimination among the autistic and aphasic communities is prevalent, and what truth may lie between connecting cognition and linguistic capabilities, are addressed. Through reviewing the available literature on research conducted, it is shown that promoting differences among individuals and implementing behavioral therapy plans aid in the reduction of linguistic discrimination. Furthermore, through reading this research, the reader does their part to lessen ignorance in the world.

April 17, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Late 20th Century Immigrants in South-Eastern Michigan on Identity, Bilingualism, and Benefit

Late 20th Century Immigrants in South-Eastern Michigan on Identity, Bilingualism, and Benefit

Agata Borowiecki

Identity has been a theme in the modern world for decades, from colonialism, through the Civil Rights movement, LGBTQ+ rights movement, and the immigrant crises. For those who have moved to the United States in recent years, their identity has changed and shifted, which has been influenced by how they experience and live a bilingual lifestyle. This paper investigates why late 20th century Polish immigrants maintain their mother language and speak it in public and if they see bilingualism as an identity or a benefit in the United States? To answer this question, the paper focuses on the experiences of Polish immigrants in southeastern Michigan. The paper includes information from Polish news sources in America, as well as personal and phone interview data. Information on identity, bilingualism, and linguistic capital include academic journals as well as these interviews. In white-coded immigrant communities like that of the late 20th century Polish wave of immigrants, there is value from bilingualism in the United States including economic, social, cultural and possibly even personal and health benefits. Further research may look into other immigrant communities in southeastern Michigan (and beyond) such as the Arab and Latino communities.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Analyzing archaeological discourse: Narratives and arguments of interpreting Inca material culture

Analyzing archaeological discourse: Narratives and arguments of interpreting Inca material culture

Hannon Hylkema 

The published scholarship of archaeologists is lexically complex and constructs unique discourse that is ripe for investigation. This essay analyzes the discourse of peer-reviewed archaeological texts which interpret pottery and textile evidence associated with inhabitants of the Inca state. The texts are limited to those published in the English language allowing for a foundational emphasis on the theoretical context created by Western ideology. In what ways do these texts make use of discourse, embodying narratives and arguments, as a linguistic device for writing about their interpretations of Inca people and Inca material culture? Archaeological texts have the power to create and or reproduce particular narratives and arguments that effect understandings of people historically as well as contemporarily. This essay distinguishes narratives and arguments as the key components of discourse within the collected sample of texts and works to elucidate their usage through means of critical analysis. For each text, passages exhibiting qualities of narrative and/or argument are systematically deconstructed and put into conversation with others. This preliminary study suggests that the positionality of Western archaeologists influences the ways in which they construct discourse and that this impacts the conveyance of their scientific interpretations about Inca material culture. Further research is needed to explore the catalogue of archaeological texts about Inca material culture in English and other languages, including Spanish and Quechua.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

ALKFJD: The changing metalinguistic understandings of keysmash practices

ALKFJD: The changing metalinguistic understandings of keysmash practices

Mikayla Swasey

Nearly everyone currently speaks to others via the Internet in some way, shape, or form, although not every Internet user speaks the same way. These differences, like whether users include emoticons like “:)” or Internet slang like JK for “just kidding” are ways people can speak online, and are increasingly being studied by linguists. Another part of Internet language are keysmahses, the action of hitting random letters on the keyboard in ways like “alshfldhf”. While this action is not studied heavily by linguists yet, there are perceived rules around this phenomenon, along with online communities associated with the action. In this paper, I describe the metalinguistic beliefs around keysmashes, as well the changes surrounding them over time.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Ad Discourse, Mexico vs. United States: The Cultural Universalization of Coca-Cola

Ad Discourse, Mexico vs. United States: The Cultural Universalization of Coca-Cola

Joshua Medina

This paper is a comparative discourse analysis of Coca-Cola commercials in the United States versus Coca-Cola commercials in Mexico. This analysis demonstrates how Coca-Cola uses discourse to convey its message. The commercials collaboration of speech, social context and actions was the main focus of this analysis. Sherzer’s work on discourse explains the power in “artistic” discourse and its bearing on cultural change. Through its discourse, Coca-Cola maximizes the power of grammar and semantics to mobilize social action. This analysis sets out to investigate the discourse of Coca-Cola commercials in Mexico, compared to the United States. What are the underlying themes of the commercials in each country and what social action might they be trying to incite? Secondly, what do the similarities and differences in discourse between the two countries tell us? To answer these questions, a discourse analysis of 20 Coca-Cola commercials, 10 from the United States and 10 from Mexico, was conducted. The results yielded both similarities and differences in advertising, for the two countries. In Mexico, Coca-Cola and dining came up as a theme. Five of the 10 Mexican commercials involved eating meals, compared to none for commercials in the United States. The commercials in the United States focused more on events, such as sports. In Mexico, Coca-Cola commercials naturalize Coke as part of the alimentation process. What was similar in both countries was a message of Coca-Cola as a human universality. Human universality is displayed using themes of social diversity and social inclusiveness, both centered around the commonality of Coca-Cola. The discourse centered around human universality in both countries may be crucial for Coca-Cola’s globalizing agenda. It might be worthwhile for future research to focus on the global health effects of the culturally universalizing discourse surrounding Coca-Cola products.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

The City Beautiful Movement and Discourse on Urban Space

 

The City Beautiful Movement and Discourse on Urban Space

Kate Blatchford

Spurred on by Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition in 1893, the City Beautiful movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sought to improve American cities through ‘beautification’.  This took the form in some places of monumental building or city planning, and in others of campaigns for new regulations on ‘unsightly’ things such as billboards.  The extent to which the movement succeeded varied by location.  This paper uses discourse analysis to examine how language was used to frame urban space in contemporary newspaper articles related to the movement.  In particular, it considers the use of the past, present, and future as well as positive and negative references to urban space.  Articles regarding the movement in Washington D.C., New York City, and Detroit were examined.  The paper finds that negative framing was used in discussion of the present, while the potential future offered by the movement was framed positively, and references to the past were mixed.  It also finds differences between the cities in the proportion of positive and negative references, which may be related to differences in the forms the movement took in those locations.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Modern Standard Arabic and The Iraqi Arabic Dialect: Prestige and Differences In Lexicon

Modern Standard Arabic and The Iraqi Arabic Dialect: Prestige and Differences In Lexicon

Ahmed Alaboosi

The Arabic language encompasses many different dialects, but the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) variety is the language that is shared among the Middle Eastern Arabic speaking countries. Every Arabic-speaking country uses its own coined dialect but manages to keep MSA as their default language, though it is not used in informal daily conversation. There are certain settings that either of the varieties are used in, and there are differences in the lexicon between both varieties. Diglossic languages like Arabic face serious challenges like teaching and learning the language, especially when learned at an older age. The linguistic differences between both varieties of the language and the settings that they are used to raise the issue of intelligibility and usage in conversation. There is a long history of the use of Modern Standard Arabic and the formation of dialects among Arab countries. This study discusses diglossia, its challenges, and the differences between the lexicon of the Iraqi colloquial dialect and the Modern Standard Arabic varieties of the Arabic language. The research addresses what the sociolinguistic lexical differences are between Modern Standard Arabic and Iraqi colloquial Arabic and in what context and setting either of them is relevant, especially in the aspect of prestige. The research uses a comparative study of the Iraqi colloquial dialect and the Modern Standard Arabic variety of the Arabic language and how they can be used in different settings and contexts. A sociolinguistic side of the research identifies any differences in using either variety among different genders, age groups, religions, politics, or geographical locations within the country of Iraq.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

PrEP, Risk, and the Potential for HIV: The power of public health discourse in a post-AIDS world

PrEP, Risk, and the Potential for HIV: The power of public health discourse in a post-AIDS world

Corrinne Sanger

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily pill taken for the prevention of HIV and one of the newest tools developed by the pharmaceutical industry to help end the transmission of HIV among people considered to be at risk. In the U.S., HIV disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men, meaning they are often the target of these public health campaigns. How do these advertisements and public health campaigns create and reinforce the risk associated with being a queer man? And how might the power of PrEP advertising affect public beliefs and knowledge about gay and bisexual men in the same way that health messaging about AIDS originally stigmatized the queer community in the 80s? Through the use of linguistic anthropological theory and an analysis of current PrEP advertisements, this paper argues that the language of public health messaging surrounding PrEP, risk, and the pharmaceuticalization of prevention targeted towards gay and bisexual men creates discourse which has the power to reinforce hierarchies, stigmatize categories, and mold the subjectivities of men in the post-AIDS, seronegative, queer community. These advertisements, depicting imagery of gay and bisexual men, publicly identify seronegative queer men as potential sites for HIV transmission through messages that use slogans implying a “freedom” or “liberation” from the acquisition of HIV. This language places the responsibility for the continued spread of the virus directly in their hands and sends the message that queer men are not free from the stigma that came with the AIDS crisis, but newly relabeled through their potentiality for disease and the need to manage it.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 5 Comments

Minority language orthography and literacy: A case study of Swo in Cameroon

Minority language orthography and literacy: A case study of Swo in Cameroon

Shannon Yee

Literacy and linguistic prestige are often related to language standardization practices. Thus, orthography development plays an important role in language development particularly for minority languages in Africa. Various scripts traditions are potentially available to any indigenous community where there are a variety of influences on that selection. This paper examines the elaboration of writing systems in minority languages in Cameroon and the way those decisions interact with linguistic identity, looking closely at one language as a representative case, as well as briefly considering the literacy that should flow from orthography development. Fieldwork with Swo, a Narrow Bantu language with approximately 9000 speakers, provides a case study of a small language group in Central Cameroon. Through participatory workshops with members of the community over the course of two years, an orthography was proposed and revised, and an introductory adult literacy program was implemented in four villages speaking two varieties of Swo. The discussion of the Swo writing system covers the currently limited extent of its use, as well as the broader sociolinguistic context which impacts literacy and minority language development in Cameroon and beyond. Socioeconomic considerations, multilingualism, and community motivation play key roles in the integration of orthography into the life of the language community; without such integration, an orthography will likely remain unused.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Gender(ed) “Equality” in the Home: Online Verbalizations of Experiences Dividing Household Labor

Gender(ed) “Equality” in the Home: Online Verbalizations of Experiences Dividing Household Labor

Elizabeth Watson

As more women enter the workforce and discussions of gender equality continue, household task allocation becomes a salient topic for considering how gender influences our daily lives and norms. American culture traditionally considers household labor a feminine activity, but what justifies and enables household labor division today stirs frustration and debate. Drawing from previous literature on language, gender, and online communities, this paper applies an extended qualitative case study approach to two Reddit threads to explore how desires and gender power dynamics of household labor are represented. The website Reddit allows Internet users to publicly share experiences and opinions on household labor by commenting on discussion “threads.” The threads come from widely viewed communities (subreddits), Am I the Asshole (AITA) and Ask Women. Analysis pays attention to how “fair” or “equal” are conceptualized and whether words labeling contributions to the household are gender-based. Both threads reveal predominantly collective, gender-neutral labels like “partnership” as ideals. With AITA inciting judgment of what household labor division should be and Ask Women prompting descriptions of current household labor division, differences include more weakening adverbs used alongside “fair/equal” and a defeated tone of associating “invisible” or “emotional” labor with women’s abilities on Ask Women. These linguistic clues demonstrate that despite explicitly stating awareness of how norms of “feminine” household labor do not suit contemporary social and economic life, Redditors’ perception of “fair” household labor experiences is still partially contingent on gendered expectations for household labor contribution. Men maintain more power to be excused from some obligations, even if they are not excused from gendered views of household labor. The confrontations and dissonance between desires and experiences verbalized on the Reddit threads support previous scholarship on household labor as inherently gendered, despite rising egalitarian values and agendas outside the domestic sphere.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

“Shooting, Riding, and Speaking Manchu”: Manchu Language and Identity in Qing Institutions

“Shooting, Riding, and Speaking Manchu”: Manchu Language and Identity in Qing Institutions

Todd Hovey

This article uses the abundant historical research of New Qing History scholars such as Crossley, Rawski, Elliot, and Di Cosmo which concerns the relationship between Manchu identity and Qing Dynasty imperial institutions to explore how these relate to the usage of the Manchu language in the early-mid eras of the Qing rule, focusing mainly on the pre-conquest Jurchen period until the end of the Qianlong reign. This research applies a sociolinguistic lens towards historical sources to understand the role language played in the construction of Manchu ethnic identity in a diachronic way, and to answer by what means and to what ends was the Manchu language related to ethnic identity and imperial institutions. For this purpose, secondary sources surrounding Manchu ethnic identity during the Qing era are mostly employed, though primary sources are referenced whenever possible.  This research concludes that the usage of the Manchu language served as an integral link in the chain which bound Manchu ethnic identity to political institutions, and that this relationship had a profound effect on the perception of Manchu language and the construction of identity among the Manchus themselves.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Art engagement and agency on the websites of dementia care facilities in Michigan

Art engagement and agency on the websites of dementia care facilities in Michigan

Laura Sutherland

The number of persons with dementia in the U.S. population is increasing.  Although the majority of persons with dementia live in homes in the community, many live in dementia care facilities.  These facilities regularly create websites to describe available services and activities, often directed toward caregivers.  Art-related activities are among those commonly offered, and art engagement may provide sites in which persons with dementia can experience and enact agency in interaction with others, confirming ongoing personhood (Poland & Birt 2016).  The language used to describe art activities on facility websites indicates underlying conceptions of care that the facility aims to communicate to caregivers.  Following Alessandro Duranti in analyzing how agency is expressed linguistically, this study examines the language used to attribute agency in these art-related activities.  Discourse analysis of the linguistic constructions of art activities on the websites for thirteen (N=13) dementia care facilities in Michigan suggests that agency is usually not attributed to the person with dementia, but distributed among facility staff, processes, and objects.  Analyzing these linguistic constructions of agency in descriptions of art activities on dementia care facility websites can lead to a greater understanding of the perceptions of facility staff of the expectations of caregivers as well as underlying assumptions around conceptions of care, personhood, and art that have practical impacts on the sustaining or constraining of personhood for residents.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 3 Comments

Inupiat Language Survival through the Video Game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Inupiat Language Survival through the Video Game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)

Georgina Gill

Technology plays a critical role in reaching the youth and broader audiences with language revitalization. This study analyzes the Inupiat video game Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) developed by Cook Inlet Tribal Council Enterprises (CITC) and Upper One Games as a response to colonial trauma, language loss, and youth engagement. The video game developed as a response to colonial trauma through language revitalization in an interactive platform created by indigenous people to reach the youth of the community and a broader audience. Kunuuksaayuka is the oral story in Never Alone told by tribal member, Robert Cleveland, in Inupiaq about the eternal blizzard which represents Inupiat survival and resilience.  The paper focuses on primary sources from the Inupiat people, other Native American groups, and global players of the video game. Observations were made through ethnographic data, interviews, and historical documentation of the Inupiat people and their resilience to colonial trauma. Suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and language loss are factors of colonial trauma for the Inupiat people’s experience. The theme of survival is pertinent in Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) and Inupiat culture to keeping traditional knowledge alive. They have successfully reached a local and global audience through the interactive video game. The positive feedback of Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) from a broad audience has paved a new and innovative way for indigenous communities to engage their youth in language and cultural revitalization.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

The Hebrew Verb System: Changes in Time

The Hebrew Verb System: Changes in Time

Jeff Dempsey

This paper identifies the changes and cultural influences on the Hebrew verb system. The primary focus is the shift in Hebrew from an aspect-prominent to a tense-prominent verb system. Tense, such as the past, present, or future, locates when a situation occurs in time. Aspect, such as a progressive action, does not focus on when a situation occurs, but it views how a situation internally relates to time.  This paper seeks to discover the practical differences and consequences of the Hebrew verb system changing from aspect-prominent to tense-prominent. It also investigates the reasons for the changes from a historical linguistic perspective. Differences in the verb system are identified by comparing Ancient/Biblical and Modern Hebrew grammars and studies. Gradual changes to the verb are traced through a broad history of the Jewish people and their language, including the Persian exile, the Greek Empire, Jewish diasporas and regathering in Israel, and through the revival of spoken Hebrew. Verb forms in Hebrew stayed the same in morphology but shifted in function to locate tense and consequently lost much of their aspectual value. This paper proposes that influences from other languages were the primary cause for Hebrew changing to a tense-prominent verb system.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Navigating Pronoun Use for Transgender and Gender Non-Binary Students in the Foreign Language Classroom

Navigating Pronoun Use for Transgender and Gender Non-Binary Students in the Foreign Language Classroom

Nicole Markovic

Many Romance languages are built on a binary conception of gender that provides limited room for gender-neutrality. Additionally, the lack of a queer pedagogy and the heteronormative assumptions of most language textbooks pose barriers to educators who are increasingly faced with navigating gender neutrality in the classroom (Nemi Nato 2018). To address these challenges, this paper explores how foreign language educators can address gendered pronouns for transgender and gender non-conforming students in the language learning classroom. While it can be noted that gender-neutral pronouns have not been adopted by Romance languages in the mainstream, there has been a significant shift in the way educators are adapting to new language patterns regarding gender pronouns. Data are collected to analyze for current practices of and recommendations for educators from sources including discussions from language learners and educators via online sources such as Quora and Twitter, as well as strategies found in the language learning software Duolingo. Discussions on Quora spotlight how, in French, speakers have begun to use the pronoun “iel” and sometimes “ille” to refer to a non-binary individual. Language learning programs like Duolingo have begun including gender-inclusive language (e.g., “his husband” or “her wife”), but less focus is put on gender neutral and gender non-binary pronouns. Further, discussion boards on Duolingo note how representing gender-inclusivity and gender-neutrality is more easily put into practice in the written form, but more challenging in spoken forms and within the classroom. The implication of this study promotes further discussion and inquiry about the strategies navigating pronoun use for transgender and gender non-binary students in the foreign language classroom.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Mail-order Muscles: A Comparative Analysis of Early 20th Century Mail-Order Fitness Advertisements, Courses, and Literature

Mail-order Muscles: A Comparative Analysis of Early 20th Century Mail-Order Fitness Advertisements, Courses, and Literature

William D. Pizzimenti

Decades before Charles Atlas developed Dynamic Tension, a vocal minority preached about the physical and mental health benefits of voluntary physical exertion. This vocal minority began producing literature: strongmen such as Lionel Strongfort and Eugen Sandow began publishing books and brochures, advertising their products in, health fanatic Bernarr Macfadden’s magazine Physical Culture.  This work investigates the various linguistic strategies utilized in mail-order fitness advertisements and products of the early twentieth century. As the twentieth century unfolded, mail-order products such as books and pamphlets took on more personable tones, shifting from technical, authoritative reading to a relaxed and informal diction. Meanwhile, language use in advertisement copywriting shifted to aggressive, persuasive, and interactive strategies to grab the attention of readers. This comparative analysis of the linguistic strategies and language usage reveals the lasting impact this literature has had on Western perceptions of diet, fitness standards, physical and mental health, and gender representation and visualization.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 2 Comments

Whatever do you meme? An analysis of the transformation in meaning of signs and symbols on 4chan

Whatever do you meme? An analysis of the transformation in meaning of signs and symbols on 4chan

Matthew Worpell 

4chan is an anonymous online message board that has been associated with notable transformations in meaning of benign signs and symbols into “Symbols of Hate”. “Pepe the Frog”, the “Ok” hand sign, and the phrase “it’s okay to be white” are used as examples of transformations of meaning in this paper. This article attempts to examine how the transformation in meaning of symbols such as those listed took place by the members of 4chan. Building on C.S. Pierce’s semiotic theory along with work previously done examining the transformations of specific memes like “Pepe the Frog”, this article hypothesizes the motivations behind the transformation. Through the use of literature review of previous work done on this topic and a simple discourse analysis of messages posted to 4chan, a hypothesized motivation begins to develop. The transformations in meaning for these symbols were artificially motivated and began as a statement of counterculture by members of 4chan regarding the hypervigilance of identifying symbols of hate in mainstream culture. The association of the symbols with hate groups became actualized when hate groups adopted those symbols for themselves. Further research could potentially look at reversing the association with hate groups for the symbols or how to successfully dissociate symbols from negative interpretations of those symbols altogether.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 1 Comment

Cultivating deeper changes through uncovering root metaphors and modernist discourses in the AASWSW Grand Challenges for Social Work 

Cultivating deeper changes through uncovering root metaphors and modernist discourses in the AASWSW Grand Challenges for Social Work 

Erin Stanley

For over 100 years, scholars from a variety of academic disciplines have engaged in articulating and pursuing empirical solutions to “grand challenges” facing humanity. Inspired by these movements and motivated to amplify their field’s historical commitment to solving social problems, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) formally convened a widespread, interdisciplinary effort to pursue “social progress powered by science” and released the Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW) in 2015. These 12 challenges are designed to represent the most pressing issues facing American society towards which social workers have the capacity and commitment to achieving measurable progress. The GCSW aim to create transformational changes and propose scientific solutions within the domains of individual and family well-being; stronger social fabric; and a just society. This paper shows that the GCSW are linguistically constituted in a way that reflects and replicates dominant assumptions and values within modernist cultures, undermining their potential to inspire deep changes both within the field of social work and society. I examine the textual representation of these grand challenges provided online by the AASWSW through the lens of conceptual metaphor theory and EcoJustice Education (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Martusewicz et al., 2015). In this study, I analyze the presence and absence of root metaphors and modernist discourses, finding evidence of the following: progress, individualism, mechanism, commodification, anthropocentrism. I argue that the grandest challenge for the field of social work is to critically uncover their underlying discursive and thought patterns that reinforce the social problems they aim to solve while simultaneously cultivating alternative linguistic conceptualizations that would support a more holistic, ethical, and sustainable society.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments

Dishing it out on gentrification: Tracking narratives of urban redevelopment through Detroit restaurant reviews 

Dishing it out on gentrification: Tracking narratives of urban redevelopment through Detroit restaurant reviews 

Juliette André

Much has been written about how journalistic discourse analysis can be a useful tool in understanding how gentrification is conveyed through mass media, how it is perceived by the public, and ultimately how it impacts an urban environment. There is a gap in the current body of research, however, on the ways in which restaurant reviews specifically act as a mechanism of gentrification’s critique or promotion. Using published single-critic restaurant reviews as a foundation for analysis, this paper aims to illuminate the shifting discourse surrounding the gentrification of Detroit and more broadly its redevelopment over a 10-year span (2010-2020). Shaping public perceptions, restaurant reviews not only alter the ways in which readers view and value the experience of dining out more broadly, but it is their purpose to dictate to readers which businesses to patronize, which ones to avoid, and why. Thus, they play a powerful role in constructing the physical urban landscape. Reviews invite, encourage, and validate certain narratives surrounding redevelopment, thereby positioning themselves as mechanisms of economic and political influence. By critically engaging in a temporal analysis of restaurant reviews, another way of understanding how gentrification is perpetuated is examined, allowing for more opportunities for the inequalities it may actualize to be mitigated.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | abstract | 4 Comments