Edited by Gunther De Vogelaer and Matthias Katerbow
[Studies in Language Variation 20] 2017
► pp. 65–89
Chapter 3. How do social networks influence children’s stylistic practices?
Social mixing, macro/micro analysis and methodological questions
Studying children’s ability to construct themselves as pluristyle speakers goes hand-in-hand with studying their socialisation. Children’s conversational experiences are one of the key factors that allow them to integrate and participate in social life. This article will therefore present studies conducted in a school setting with the aim of better understanding the links between children’s stylistic usage and the social diversity of their social networks. The network approach has been widely used in adults but rarely with children and it allows the acquisition of variation to be considered in context, taking into account children’s horizontal socialisation beyond parental influences.
The present analysis will begin by looking briefly at existing work drawing on the notion of social networks in adults and teenagers in order to outline a number of related key research questions in terms of first-language acquisition. Some results obtained from a study conducted in Grenoble (France) with 10-11-year-old children will then be described (Buson 2009a, b). Finally, micro-sociolinguistic analysis will be used to return to some of the methodological issues that remain to be resolved in order to reach a more detailed understanding of the links between the acquisition of variation and the influence of peer networks.