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Language in Society 21, 1-26.

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Social network and social class: Toward an integrated sociolinguistic model1 LESLEY MILROY AND JAMES MILROY
Departments of Speech (L.M.) and English Language (J.M.) University of Newcastle upon Tyne Queen Victoria Road at St. Thomas' Street Newcastle upon TyneNEi 7RU, United Kingdom

In sociolinguistics, approaches that use the variables of socioeconomic class and social network have often been thought to be irreconcilable. In this article, we explore the connection between these variables and suggest the outlines of a model that can integrate them in a coherent way. This depends on linking a consensus-based microlevel of network with a conflict-based macrolevel of social class. We suggest interpretations of certain sociolinguistic findings, citing detailed evidence from research in Northern Ireland and Philadelphia, which emphasize the need for acknowledging the importance of looseknit network ties in facilitating linguistic innovations. We then propose that the link between network and class can be made via the notion of weak network ties using the process-based model of the macrolevel suggested by Thomas Hejrup's theory of life-modes. (Sociolinguistics, sociology, quantitative social dialectology, anthropological linguistics) One of the most important contributions of Labov's quantitative paradigm has been to allow us to examine systematically and accountably the relationship between language variation and speaker variables such as sex, ethnicity, social network, and - most importantly perhaps - social class. Language variation in large and linguistically heterogeneous cities as well as in smaller communities has been revealed not as chaotic but as socially regular, and Labov and others have shown how investigating this socially patterned variation can illuminate mechanisms of…...

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