Hartmut HaberlandJanus Mortensen
Table of contents

Much of the work that has been carried out in pragmatics, sociolinguistics and related fields has traditionally focused on sedentary and relatively stable social configurations in which social interaction is assumed to proceed on the basis of shared social and linguistic norms. Recently, however, research concerned with mobility and movement has increasingly come to the fore within sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology (see e.g. Blommaert 2016; Pennycook 2016; Park 2019), and scholars interested in social settings characterized by transience have begun to explore contexts where the existence of sedimented social and linguistic norms cannot be assumed to be in place a priori, but must be explored as an emergent phenomenon developing in situ over time as a joint effort of the participants, in an interplay with the wider social context. Research interested in transient social communities, defined as “social configurations where people from diverse sociocultural and linguistic backgrounds come together (physically or otherwise) for a limited period of time around a shared activity” (Mortensen & Hazel 2017: 256), serve to complexify the object of analysis within the study of language and social life. Many established theoretical constructs in pragmatics and sociolinguistics can be seen as products of past needs to construct stable models of unstable phenomena. A focus on transience challenges this need for stability and opens new avenues of research at the interface of pragmatics, sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology.

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