1.What problems might exist for sociolinguistic studies that group speakers into speech communities, and how does the Communities of Practice model address these issues?
One of the first speech communities` problems stated by Bucholtz is that it is a theory that can only be applied to a sociolinguistic field .It is not useful to any other related discipline as its focus limits to study language and ignores all other elements that are crucial in human and social interactions. Moreover, speech communities analyses sociolinguistic aspects in a macro level so it is not possible to study identity through it together with the problematic and struggle emerging during its performance.
This theory assumes that language is a set of norms shared among all members and that there cannot be any variation within the group. In this way, the language and the norms that success among the community are imposed by the powerful ones. Thus, according to scholars of language and gender, traditional studies tend to consider women`s language as deficient in comparison to men`s.
As the focus of this theory is to study what the members of a community share and the set of norms established within them, any member who differs from the rest of the group is automatically marginalized and excluded. In the few cases in which these members are included in the study, they just serve as an example of how a linguistic norm can fall of the average. Once again, women may be marginalized, especially in studies on vernacular forms of language, as they tend to use a more standard form of language. This strict set of norms and refusal of the diverging element within the speech community also reflects resistance to change and to outsider influence; a fact that is not very realistic as it does not consider important to the language of a community the social interaction with other communities that can bring linguistic changes.
Finally, as the norms that are applied in the speech community are a consensus among the powerful members, there is priority to the group over the individual and speech communities do not take into account that individuals perform conscious choices in order to react to the limitations imposed by the group. Thus, this theory displays identity as a static phenomenon not as changing and moving, as well as an element which results from each individual`s agency. In this way, the speech community fails in its approach by considering the source of identity from the very top, the community, and not from the very basis, the individuals.
On the other hand, the community of practice is created in order to study identity and which aim is to deal with problems about gender that could not be resolved through speech communities theories. In this way, its focus is not just language as a set of rules, but as a part of social practice among individuals and the way in which those practices are used to display identity. Besides, it gives social and linguistic information about the...