Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 32, No 1 (2009)

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Beth Martin


The increased interest in identity described by Omoniyi and White and resulting in the “veritable explosion” in the number of researchers from the social sciences putting identity at the centre of their work (p. 34), culminates in this volume’s aim to appropriately reflect the current state of sociolinguistic study into identity. This impressive collection, consisting of 13 separate chapters including the editors’ introduction and a thorough index of terms and authors, stems from a seminar on language and identity at the University of Reading in 2004. Contributions also originated as papers presented at the
AILA 2005 Conference. Considering the complexity of the term ‘identity’ and its elusive conception across all disciplines, this volume is a timely and noteworthy collection of experiences with language and identity, which provides an overview of documented positions and a view to contemporary directions of studies into the sociolinguistics of identity. With the variety of backgrounds and stances of the contributions in mind, the
editors detail six common positions stated to be found within the contributions for greater internal cohesion. These six positions are that (1) identity is not fixed, (2) identity is constructed and may vary, (3) contexts are moderated by social variables and are expressed through language, (4) identity is salient in every communicative context, (5) identity informs social relationships and communicative exchanges, and (6) more than one identity may be articulated equating an interactive system of identities management. White and Omoniyi indicate when certain points are elaborated on in the ensuing chapters, however, the only points explicitly mentioned in relation to any of the contributed works are those of 1, 2, 3 and 6. Whilst it could be argued that point 5 is inherent in section two, this is not alluded to and point 4 not once overtly implied.

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