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The study of variation and change is at the heart of the sociolinguistics. Providing a wide survey of the field, this textbook is organised around three constraints on variation: linguistic structure, social structure and identity, and social and linguistic perception. By considering both structure and meaning, Scott F. Kiesling examines the most important issues surrounding variation theory, including canonical studies and terms, as well as challenges to them. Research in non-English and non-European contexts is also addressed. A range of different topics within sociolinguistics is covered including: * The linguistic variable and its status * Sociolinguistic methods * The description of variable patterns * Linguistic and social structure * Social meaning and perception. With over 50 figures and a practical section on methodology, this textbook is an ideal solution for undergraduate and postgraduate students of sociolinguistics seeking a comprehensive study of variation and change.