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Social Class, Interactional Pragmatics and the Likely Lads

D. M. Ponton
Published Online: 2018-07-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0012


Long exposed to the democraticising effects of modernity, Britain's class structure supposedly collapsed during the 1990s (Turner 2013), though against this contention there is ample evidence to suggest that its essential contours are unaltered, and that the classless society is itself a myth (Marshall et al 1988). This paper explores an earlier period, in Britain's not too distant past, when the labels, 'working class' and 'middle class' were less controversial. The BBC's sit-com 'Whatever happened to the likely lads?' (Clement and La Frenais), from the early 1970s, was one of its most successful ever, enjoying both public support and critical acclaim. The show follows the lives of Bob Ferris and Terry Collier, two working class school-friends from the north-east who, after a period of separation, find each other again as they start out in life. While Bob is aspirational, attempting to achieve his goals of social progress through work, further education and marriage, Terry pursues the same lifestyle, viewing his friend's progress in terms of class betrayal. An episode from the series will be explored using a pragmatic-dialogic approach (Kecskes 2016), to suggest that the invisible framework of class needs to be invoked in order to make sense of the dialogue

Keywords: social class; pragmatics; discursive interaction


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About the article

Received: 2017-10-26

Accepted: 2018-03-01

Published Online: 2018-07-25

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 227–240, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0012.

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© 2018 D. M. Ponton, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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