El proyecto

Critical linguistic awareness and speaker agency: Action-research for sociolinguistic equity

The EquiLing joint research project presents a novel theoretical and methodological proposal to investigate how sociolinguistic research can understand in depth and act on the complex processes by which languages create, maintain and reproduce the inequalities present in all societies.

The project thus encompasses two goals: on the one hand, to reach an in-depth understanding of how language creates, sustains and replicates inequities in society; on the other, through action-research, to explore how speakers can reverse the processes involved in this construction, and how we, as sociolinguists, can be part of this transformation.

To achieve these two goals and to operationalize the research, EquiLing has designed three main objectives. The first objective consists of building an innovative theoretical framework, taking advantage of the rich diversity of sociolinguistic situations found in the contexts of the officially bilingual regions of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia, and in Madrid.

To this end, EquiLing proposes three conceptual axes to articulate the multiplicity of social and sociolinguistic processes, and connect them with other forms of inequity: (A) the unequal distribution of linguistic resources (misdistribution), (B) the inequitable recognition of speakers (misrecognition), and (C) the uneven participation of speakers in society (imparity). The theoretical framework of EquiLing draws from innovative standpoints and concepts: critical language awareness, speaker agency, models of speakerhood mediated by linguistic ideologies, subjectivity, and linguistic citizenship.

The second objective is to use this theoretical development to analyze real-life, context-sensitive practices and to detect the potential for transformation in the various research sites, which comprise formal and informal educational settings ranging from secondary and higher education classrooms to student and cultural associations, social grassroots movements and linguistic volunteer programs. In the different project sites, both reflection and action will take place together with the research participants, who will assess the opportunities for change available and will participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of the results of transformative actions.

To this end, an innovative methodological framework is proposed that combines multi-sited ethnography in formal and informal spaces with collaborative research strategies such as Participatory Action Research (PAR) and the creation of epistemic communities. Finally, the third objective consists of projecting theoretical and methodological know-how into operational proposals that can be applied in and beyond the specific social contexts of research (the field of language educational), in order to promote the harmonious coexistence of linguistic practices, as well as an inclusive linguistic citizenship that enhances the respect of speakers towards themselves and towards others, and crystallizes in a more egalitarian and inclusive sociolinguistic order.

This transformation is especially necessary in Spain, where the constitutional norm that calls for the promotion and protection of linguistic diversity has been insufficiently developed, especially (but not only) outside the officially bilingual autonomous communities. It also responds to the challenge of finding solutions that contribute to the development of more innovative, inclusive and responsible societies in Europe.


With the EquiLing Project for linguistic equity and sociolinguistic justice, we study the role of language in the construction of contemporary inequalities through participatory ethnographies in different sociolinguistic contexts. We promote citizen science and equal participation in educational institutions for the sake of sociolinguistic justice. We undertake transformative actions with speakers from Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia and Madrid to reverse language-mediated inequality.