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Sociological Theory Explanation of Why Black People Code-Switch in Workplace

Code-switching is a common phenomenon within the current generation due to the increasing rate of cultural diversity within society. The sociological attribute of code-switching is portrayed when an individual alternates between a variety of languages during a single conversation (Heller 167). Code-switching is mostly common among bilingual and multilingual speakers who can fluently speak more than one language. The use of code-switching by the indigenous American communities was historically regarded as substandard use of language. However, in the current generation, code-switching has been acknowledged as a normal language use that is associated with bilingual and multilingual language use (Heller 173). In the workplace environment, code-switching is mostly portrayed by African-American individuals. There are various reasons why African-Americans code-switch in the workplace environment. The acknowledgment of code-switching is significant because it allows individuals to achieve a sense of belonging and inclusivity within a culturally diverse environment.

The use of code-switching by African-Americans within the workplace setting allows them to achieve a sense of belonging and inclusivity. According to the Du Bois Sociological Theory, the concept of race which operates as a mechanism of authority results in the creation of social dominations in society. The emergence of social domination affects the welfare of the marginalized communities who are subject to bias and discrimination, also known as ‘The Negro Problem’. The Negro Problem in the sociological theory of Du Bois can be eliminated by acknowledging that different communities have different sociological beliefs and practices which are equally important like those of the dominant communities (Meer 47). Every individual in a culturally diverse setting should embrace their ethical and cultural attributes to achieve inclusivity and diversity in the current generation. Therefore, code-switching plays a critical role in allowing African-American individuals to portray their bilingual attributes to achieve a sense of belonging.

Language plays a significant role in shaping the identity and worldview of the individuals or communities that use the language. The individuals whose language is shaped by embracing code-switching adopt different cultural identities that can be used in different social contexts and conversational settings. According to Jose et al (67), the use of code-switching by the African-Americans allows them to learn how to switch from the dominant culture’s dialect to their native dialect and thus achieve a sense of belonging within the workplace setting. A sense of belonging and identity can be achieved when an individual act or speaks in the same way as those that are around them.

Several reasons influence the African-Americans desire to identify with their culture within the workplace. Code-switching allows individuals from a specific cultural community to share secrets in a culturally diverse setting. Code-switching also plays a significant role in allowing language users to convey a specific thought or idea in the most effective way (Jose et al 70). There are specific concepts that are well understood in a particular dialect. Language users can therefore change dialects or employ colloquialisms to allow listeners to understand exactly what they meant. The attribute of code-switching is also common among the African American community because it allows them to get favors from individuals from the same culture. Individuals often feel motivated to give favors to members of their cultural group and thus code-switching allows individuals to easily ask for something without fear. The different reasons and benefits of code-switching all conclude that code-switching is critical because it allows individuals to achieve a sense of belonging and inclusivity within a culturally diverse environment.

Works Cited

Heller, Monica. “Code-switching and the politics of language.” The bilingualism reader. Routledge, 2020. 163-176.

Jose, Navya, et al. “A survey of current datasets for code-switching research.” 2020 6th International Conference on Advanced Computing and Communication Systems (ICACCS). IEEE, 2020.

Meer, Nasar. “WEB Du Bois, double consciousness and the ‘spirit’of recognition.” The Sociological Review 67.1 (2019): 47-62.


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