QSSC: On linguistic approaches to social problems

Apr 12, 2024, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
127 Corwin Hall


Event Description

In fields like natural language processing, social problems are often operationalized as linguistic problems that can be analyzed and addressed with linguistic expertise and language technologies. I'll present some conceptual work that examines this practice and its implications, drawing on examples from police reform and online content moderation, along with theoretical frameworks from linguistic anthropology. I'll argue that in treating a social problem as linguistic, researchers and practitioners often fail to account for the histories and political arrangements that are core to the problem, resulting in misunderstandings and in interventions that entrench power rather than contributing to social justice.