Table of Contents:

Integration Index

Given the fracturing of local networks due to economic restructuring, the decision was made to counterbalance the individual speakers’ socioeconomic trajectories with a more collective measure of their integration into the local community. In line with social network studies (e.g., Milroy 1987: 179), the Eskilstuna community integration index was designed in 1996 to measure the speakers’ degree of social integration in Eskilstuna. The factors that make up the community integration index are:

  • 1 Place of birth/childhood/adolescence of spouse
  • 2 Place of birth/childhood/adolescence of parents
  • 3 Place of birth/childhood/adolescence of spouse’s parents
  • 4 Siblings, raised in Eskilstuna whom informant sees regularly
  • 5 Spouse’s siblings, raised in Eskilstuna whom informant sees regularly
  • 6 Number of children
  • 7 Number of native work colleagues
  • 8 Number of native close friends
  • 9 Number of local associations or organizations in which informant is active
  • 10 Willingness to move from Eskilstuna
  • 11 Tendency to feel at home in Eskilstuna
  • 12 Location of work

After each interview, the first author asked the informant a set of questions designed to elicit responses to these questions and assigned each parameter 0, 1, or 2 points based on the their response. The informant’s total points were multiplied by 100, creating an index ranging from 0 to 200 (with 200 corresponding to maximal integration). The integration index scores for the 1996 panel study participants are shown in Table 1.2. The average integration index score was 123 (men: 135; women: 110) for the panel study. For the 1996 trend speakers, the average integration score was 126 (men: 127; women: 125).

Crucially for the present analysis, integration into the Eskilstuna community in 1996 was highly associated with speakers’ socioeconomic standing and level of education. This relationship was even more pronounced in the panel study than in the trend study, such that the integration index in the highest socioeconomic group was on average 142 as compared to just 100 in the lowest socioeconomic group. Table 1.4 illustrates the strong correlation between the community integration index and socioeconomic standing (r = .998), which is contrary to the densely networked working-class communities in industrial Belfast reported by the Milroy and Milroy (1985) and has since often been taken for granted in sociolinguistic studies (Chambers 2009).

Ethnographic research suggested that this is not simply a skew in the data but that the close association between community integration and social group, which obviously makes it difficult to disentangle the effects of these two social predictors, was typical for Eskilstuna society in the 1980s and 1990s, especially for men. As we discuss below, gendered career expectations and trajectories in Eskilstuna result in a situation whereby men have much more to gain by demonstrating their local identity linguistically than women. In contrast, women are expected to use standard language if they aim to gain influence and social status (see Sundgren 2001: 121-122, cf. Eckert 1989). Unfortunately, there were insufficient numbers of informants in the panel study to make such a comparison statistically meaningful.

Social Mobility

Early sociolinguistic research found socioeconomic standing to be correlated with the degree of vernacularity (Labov 1966; Shuy et al. 1967; Fischer 1958), suggesting that socially upwardly mobile individuals would increase their use of standard forms. Recent panel research has indeed supported this hypothesis (see Buchstaller et al. 2017; Sankoff

Table 1.4 1996 panel informants’ social groups and community integration index 1996 (r = 0.998)

Integration index









and Blondeau 2007; Wagner and Sankoff 2011). Social mobility for the 1996 trend study participants was calculated based on a change from their childhood. Specifically, speakers’ occupations were compared to their parents’ occupations (that is, the occupation of the father unless the mother had an occupation with higher social status, which was seldom the case in the 1960s). Social mobility for the panel study informants was determined based on a change in the individual’s occupation between 1967 and 1996 (see Table 1.3). Interestingly, the speakers demonstrate no association between their level of community integration and degree of social mobility (socially mobile individuals =122 integration index versus socially stable individuals = 123 integration index).

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