Assessing national stereotypes in language attitude studies: The case of class-consciousness in Denmark

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Abstract

In the literature on national cultures and cross-cultural communication, Denmark and Great Britain are frequently presented as bipolar opposites in terms of social-class distinctions and class-consciousness. Britain is referred to as a class-ridden society where the stigma of a non-standard accent is devastating; Denmark is presented as a country in which social-class distinctions are virtually non-existent. This paper presents results from a language attitude study in Denmark arguing that the views presented in the literature are often popular conceptions, or expressions of political correctness, which appear to have very little in common with people's private uncensored stereotypes. The attitude data suggest that, in Denmark, people are quite capable of assigning social-class membership, and other personal characteristics, to members of different regional and social groups. The paper concludes that the overt stereotype of equalisation and a 'classless orientation' presented in the literature may be explained by reference to political decision-making, but that this appears to tell us very little about the social realities of people's lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-198
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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