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Anke Walzebug: Sprachlich bedingte soziale Ungleichheit

Reviewed by ao. Prof. i.R. Dr. Franz Dotter, 2015-08-03

Cover Anke Walzebug: Sprachlich bedingte soziale Ungleichheit ISBN 978-3-8309-3201-7

Anke Walzebug: Sprachlich bedingte soziale Ungleichheit. Theoretische und empirische Betrachtungen am Beispiel mathematischer Testaufgaben und ihrer Bearbeitung. Waxmann Verlag Marketing & Rezensionen (Münster, New York) 2015. 300 pages. ISBN 978-3-8309-3201-7. D: 34,90 EUR, A: 35,90 EUR, CH: 46,90 sFr.
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Summary

„Socially caused modes of language use“ influence success at school. This looks like a plausible explanation for a certain area of pedagogical facts. Let´s try to concretize: apparently, success at school is directly correlated to sophisticated language use in spoken as well as written communication. „Sophisticated“ means that – depending on situation, function and goal of an utterance – the user can create different grades of exactness in the description of circumstances.

This possibility is further dependent on a differentiated knowledge of world and environment or on the condition that such knowledge can be ad-hoc aquired. The author denominates this situation differently but one can state that she has found some indications or proofs for it, taken from the field of mathematical school tests and interviews with pupils concerning the solution of mathematical tasks. However, for her model she has chosen reductionistic sociological theories (Bourdieus metaphor of different types of capital and his notion of „habitus“; the dichotomy „orat vs. literat“, reflecting „unmarked properties of spoken vs. written communication“; restricted lists of types of „milieu“ and language registers). For the prediction of individual language use e.g. of pupils at school, these notions are not very useful, as they allow only very general tendencies to be stated. Additionally, the application of these theories leads to some contradictory questions: Do the social environmental conditions so rigidly steer cognition and language that the consequential „socially caused modes of language use“ block the success of „non-privileged“ children at school in a „natural manner“ (this is the message of the back cover of the book)? Or is social inequality caused by language (this is the titlle of the book): a language which does not offer the sophistication necessary nowadays „retains“ the children in their low social group and barrs success at school?

My answer is: these are the wrong questions. We should first ask whether some individual cognitive and language strategies, acquired by children before school, block the development of learning and language at school. To find this out, the coarse grids have to be abandoned and the diverse communicative interactions of and with children have to be checked for single cognitive and language factors which contribute to behavior, learning and language development.

The readers of this review see: This book has stimulated me as well as it has upset me. Maybe you want to have the same experience?

Review by
ao. Prof. i.R. Dr. Franz Dotter
Sprachwissenschaftler, Universität Klagenfurt
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Cite this publication
Franz Dotter, 2015. Review of: Anke Walzebug: Sprachlich bedingte soziale Ungleichheit. Theoretische und empirische Betrachtungen am Beispiel mathematischer Testaufgaben und ihrer Bearbeitung. Waxmann Verlag Marketing & Rezensionen (Münster, New York) 2015. ISBN 978-3-8309-3201-7. In: socialnet Reviews, 2015-08-03. ISSN 2190-9245. Retrieved 2022-06-28 from https://www.socialnet.de/en/reviews/18315.php.


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