Commentary: Superdiversity old and new

Jan Blommaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)
658 Downloads (Pure)


This commentary reviews the papers in this volume as successful attempts at unthinking a legacy of nation-state sociolinguistics, enabled by developments in Europe-based sociolinguistics and US-based linguistic anthropology. After offering arguments on why superdiversity should best be seen as an advanced and synthetic perspective on language and society and pointing out its fundamentally critical nature, two key issues articulated in the papers in this volume are isolated for discussion. The first one is the nature of contemporary power, articulated through an increased tension between policies strengthening the objective and monocentric language community of the nation-state, and polycentric, centrifugal speech communities. The contemporary state becomes increasingly anachronistic as an actor in the field of language in society. The second key issue is the need to rethink the foundations of “community”, as developed in a classical Durkheimian-Parsonian sociology. Especially the connection between online and offline semiotic and social worlds yields issues of complexity, now made visible by a more accurate and precise sociolinguistics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)82-89
Number of pages7
JournalLanguage and Communication: An interdisciplinary journal
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • superdiversity
  • language
  • sociolinguistics
  • linguistic anthropology


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