The perils of language ecology

University of Waikato
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Conference Proceeding
LED2003: Refereed Conference Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Language, Education and Diversity, 2005, pp. 1 - 17
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We live, it would seem, in ecological times. Ecology has become the metaphor of choice for many working in the social sciences, and particularly in areas such as language planning, sociolinguistics, and even language acquisition. As Leather and Van Dam explain, "an ecological approach to the study of language acquisition sees the individual's cognitive processes as inextricably interwoven with their experiences in the physical and social world .... " and "aims to avoid unjustifiable appeals to normativity - in both research designs and the interpretation of data" (2003, p. 13). According to Fettes (2003), "ecological explanations offer a more promising foundation for critical reasoning than any of the alternatives (Marxism, postsructuralism, gender theory and the rest) ... " (p. 45). Thus, an ecological perspective is currently held up as the new paradigm for our times, able to deliver where many previous frameworks have failed I wish to present a slightly more sceptical account in this paper.
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