A Sociolinguistic Perspective on Accent and Social Mobility in the UK Teaching Profession

Michael Donnelly, Alex Baratta, Sol Gamsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)


A new interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of accent in relation to intergenerational social mobility is introduced here. Sociological analyses that attend to accent often focus on broader regional distinctions or construct limiting dichotomies of accents, rather than capturing the full variety and range of accents, often found at smaller geographic levels. Drawing on the case of the teaching profession and using qualitative data collected as part of a study of teachers, we illustrate how integrating sociolinguistics into a sociological analysis of social mobility would allow us to combine the micro-geography of class, mobility, and speech to a more granular level. The analytical tools provided by sociolinguistics, outlined here, could push forward work on understanding prospects for, and experiences of, social mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-513
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Michael Donnelly?s contribution to this research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (award no. ES/N002121/1) through a Future Research Leader award to investigate geographies of higher education and social mobility.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • accent
  • linguistic capital
  • social class
  • social mobility
  • sociolinguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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