GESF SEMINAR: David Block – The materiality and semiosis of social class and inequality in contemporary societies

WHEN: 5:30-6:30pm, Wednesday 6th July 2016

WHERE: 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol BS8 1JA, Room: 2.26

David will begin with some basic definitional work on social class and inequality before moving on, to consider how social class and inequality are realised both materially (real banks, real managers, real factory closures, etc.) and discursively (i.e. presentation, representation and performativity via not only language-use but also semiosis) against a backdrop of economic, social and political conflict in contemporary societies. To demonstrate how such realisation processes work, he explores a specific case: the PAH (Plataforma de Afectadospor la Hipoteca), a social movement in Spain which works: (1) on behalf of individuals and families who cannot pay their mortgages and are threatened with eviction by the banks holding these mortgages and (2) against the power embodied in the Spanish state and the capitalist class, especially the banking sector (see:

David focuses particularly on the semiotically-mediated and class and inequality-based battle between the Spanish state, governed by the (extremely) right wing  Partido Popular, and the PAH, whereby the former have engaged in long running campaign of acoso y derribo (harassment and demolition) exercising both symbolic and material state power in the process.  All of this with a view to showing how the materiality and semiosis of social class and inequality in contemporary societies occurs.

Based on:

Block, D. (2017) ‘The materiality and semiosis of inequality and class struggle and warfare: the case of home evictions in Spain’. In R.Wodak & B. Forchtner (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Language and Politics. London: Routledge.


About the Speaker: David Block is Research Professor in Sociolinguistics at
Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Universitat de Lleida, Spain.
His research focuses on the following five areas: (1) Political economy and how it can inform thinking about globalization and identity, and a specific interest in neoliberalism as the dominant ideology in contemporary societies and how it impacts on and shapes the interface between identity and language learning and use. (2) Socioeconomic stratification and class and how they relate to issues in applied linguistics. (3) The impact of globalization on language practices of all kinds (and migration as an aspect of globalization which impacts on and shapes language practices).(4) The interface between identity and language learning and use. (5) Issues in multi/bilingualism in contemporary societies.

For more information about the Speaker, please visit