Episode 7

David D. Perrodin

My dear fellow applied linguistics researcher friends…

At the end of Episode 6, I asked you to stay tuned for the next episode when I would share the challenges I faced in adapting Social Capital Theory for use in my research. So, here we go….

As I mentioned in the last episode, I had found my theoretical framework to work within… Social Capital Theory. The renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930 – 2002) described social capital as the ‘habitus’ (socially ingrained behaviors, skills, and dispositions) of an individual primarily derived from that person’s social position and status within a ‘field.’ Bourdieu defined field as a domain where the exchange of related goods, knowledge, and services, takes place. A person who holds habitus within that field can exert authority to gain competitive positions within that domain. What does a theory born from sociology have to do with my research in applied linguistics?

Well, simply put, most research is boring. It lacks novelty. We see many novice researchers who utilize overly-studied phenomena or relatively common theories used hundreds of times in the same manner with like data sets to write carbon-copied papers. They use a standard methodology to analyze the same data type that every other novice researcher is doing throughout that particular discipline. I wanted some novelty in my research.

I wanted to look at teaching English from the point of view of ALL non-local non-native and native teachers of English. I wanted to discover how their habitus positions them within the field of English language teaching (ELT). There has been so much research about agency, position, and the like. However, these studies never answered the questions as to why these teachers are in fixed places within the field of ELT or if they could change positions within the field by changing their habitus.

I needed to use a different theory that was not common to applied linguistics to find answers to questions that studies in applied linguistics never answered. So, I chose to use Bourdieu’s Social Capital Theory. I wanted to link habitus, field, and subjective feelings of privilege and marginalization. Easier said than done.

This was only the first hurdle… I wanted to study ALL non-local non-native and native teachers of English. I spent weeks going through the many terms used for this group of teachers. Simply do a quick search for NNEST or NEST, and you will see the many terms associated with these acronyms.

And here was the second hurdle… I had come up with a single homogenous term that would encompass all non-local non-native and native English teachers.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “From the Mind of a Developing Researcher,” when I will share with you the challenges of producing a single term that would encompass all non-local non-native and native teachers of English.

My Favorite Books

  1. Bolton, K., Botha, W., & Kirkpatrick, A. (2020). The Handbook of Asian Englishes. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  2. Clegg. S. R. (1989). Frameworks of Power. Sage.
  3. Grenfell, M. J. (2014). Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts (2nd ed.). Routledge.
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