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The empirical and descriptive strengths of sociolinguistics, developed over more than 40 years of research, have not been matched by an active engagement with theory. Yet, over this time, social theorising has taken important new turns, linked in many ways to linguistic and discursive concerns. Sociolinguistics and Social Theory is the first book to explore the interface between sociolinguistic analysis and modern social theory. The book sets out to reunite sociolinguistics with the concepts and perspectives of several of the most influential modern theorists of society and social action, including Bakhtin, Foucault, Habermas, Sacks, Goffman, Bourdieu and Giddens. In eleven newly commissioned chapters, leading sociolinguists reappraise the theoretical framing of their research, reaching out beyond conventional limits. The authors propose significant new orientations to key sociolinguistic themes, including- - social motivations for language variation and change - language, power and authority - language and ageing - language, race and class - language planning In substantial introductory and concluding chapters, the editors and invited discussants reassess the boundaries of sociolinguistic theory and the priorities of sociolinguistic methods. Sociolinguistics and Social Theory encourages students and researchers of sociolinguistics to be more reflexively aware and critical of the social bases of their analyses and invites a reasessment of the place sociolinguistics occupies in the social sciences generally.