Social constructionism, postmodernism and feminist sociolinguistics


  • Janet Holmes Victoria University of Wellington



Language & Gender Theory, Workplace Discourse, Communities of Practice


This article argues that it is time to put women back at the centre of language and gender research. Following a discussion of some issues with social constructionist and postmodernist approaches to the analysis of gendered social interaction, a case is made for identifying general (often repressive or constricting) patterns based on analyses using a detailed ethnographic approach. More specifically, the paper outlines the advantages of using a community of practice approach to analysing workplace discourse, providing evidence of the ‘gender order’, the repressive ideology which ensures that deviations from gender norms (by women or men) entail penalties. It is argued that such an approach provides a means of identifying discursive behaviours which penalise women in many workplace contexts on the one hand, while documenting a range of active discursive ways of resisting sexist behaviours on the other.



How to Cite

Holmes, J. (2007). Social constructionism, postmodernism and feminist sociolinguistics. Gender and Language, 1(1), 51–65.