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Sociolinguistics is a very popular area of undergraduate language study, but most books neglect to give students more than a brief account of how language data involved is collected and analyzed. This is the only book to focus directly and in such detail on sociolinguistic methodology. It encourages students to critically examine the kinds of evidence presented in sociolinguistic studies, rather than accept the results as given. The book brings together information that is distributed across a wide range of studies and examines the decisions made and the ways in which the data was collected. This detailed textbook critically examines methods used in sociolinguistc studies, including the ways in which the categories of age, gender, ethnicity and social class have been employed to chart language variation. It discusses the nature of data and encourages students to examine the evidence with a more critical eye.