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ERIC Number: EJ821979
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1542-7587
Social Structure and Individual Agency in Second Language Learning: Evidence from Three Life Histories
Flowerdew, John; Miller, Lindsay
Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, v5 n4 p201-224 Oct 2008
This paper examines the issue of social structure and individual agency in language learning through the life histories of three young engineering graduates in Hong Kong. English is identified as an important form of cultural capital, which to a considerable extent determines the development of the three individuals, each of whom comes from a modest family background. In spite of the undeniable role of cultural capital (a product of social structure), examples of individual agency, in the form of the degrees of "investment" made in their language learning, and the application of "creative discursive agency" (which is to a large extent not a result of the official school curriculum) can be seen as influential on the development of the three young men. The discussion section of the paper considers the relative importance of social structure and individual agency in language education in a post-colonial society such as Hong Kong and the roles of "investment" and "creative discursive agency." It argues that in order to tilt the balance in favor of agency over structure and to encourage more "investment" on the part of learners, more attention needs to be given to creating opportunities for "creative discursive agency" in and outside the classroom.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Hong Kong