The utilization of bilingual practices as linguistic capital: a multiple case study of upper class Latina/os on the U.S.-Mexico border




Ramos, Diana Carolina

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Utilizing a multiple case study approach, this study focuses on examining the construction of English-Spanish bilingual practices and language preferences of upper class Latina/o adults in the U.S.-Mexico border city of Laredo, Texas. The focus on social class is an effort to examine the role of language in constituting social class, and a recognition of linguistic capital as an evolving entity that includes both standard and non-standard language varieties. By making the upper class the focus of study as opposed to other classes, this examination of language practices also provides an account of a category of social class that is usually in power when it comes to determining what "counts" as linguistic capital (Bourdieu, 1990). The guiding research questions for this multiple case study across three domains were the following: (1) What linguistic practices and language preferences do upper class Latina/o adults in the border city of Laredo engage in? and (2) How do these practices serve to create and maintain various forms of capital? The findings of the study suggest that participants' linguistic practices and language ideologies are often in conflict and that the border is a site of linguistic and cultural struggle and negotiation that requires individuals to continually adapt in order to perform a specific class identity and to maintain and acquire capital. Moreover, it is suggested that language ideologies, especially those related to educational experiences, be further examined to learn more about these linguistic negotiations of standard and non-standard forms of English and Spanish.


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Bilingualism, Case study, Latina/os, Linguistic capital, Social class, U.S.-Mexico border



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies