Call for Papers

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Calls for greater social justice appear to be ignored in an age of increasing economic inequality (Piketty & Goldhammer, 2014), particularly in many of the leading and growing economies around the world where we find the rising forces of nationalism and xenophobia, climate change denial and the normalisation of radical right-wing ideologies. At the same time, the recognition of the key role that language plays in establishing and maintaining relations of power has never been greater, with discourse now recognised in popular culture and in a range of disciplines as a major force in social change. The need to apply the analysis of discourse and other forms of meaning-making to the improvement of social justice has never been more urgent.

Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) has a long tradition of analysing language with the aim of reducing social inequity, reaching back to one of its original aims of promoting linguistic equality (Halliday, 2015). The analytical toolbox offered by SFL has been instrumental in establishing reliable frameworks of analysis in critical discourse analysis, in multimodal semiotics and in educational linguistics.  Consequently, in recent years we have exponentially improved our ability to identify how meaning-making resources are deployed in written, spoken, visual and multi-channel modalities across a range of contexts, often with the aim of exposing hegemonic power structures. For instance, SFL has had a significant impact on narrowing the attainment gap for children in schools combining functional grammar with social realism in order to expose how the language of schooling works to the advantage of dominant social groups (Rose & Martin, 2012).

This conference aims to explore the many ways that language and other modes of meaning-making play an integral role in preventing or promoting social justice. The conference expects SFL and associated disciplines to bring diverse perspectives to bear on the understanding, intervention and disruption of embedded power relations and ideologies through the analysis of semiotic processes. We especially welcome papers that connect the theme to these areas of research:

  • Multimodality and social semiotics
  • Critical & positive discourse analysis
  • Appliable linguistics
  • Political economy & social structure
  • Education & applied linguistics

We also welcome other papers that relate to the theme of ‘Social Semiotics and Social Justice’ and as always we aim to provide a forum for all SFL research.

Our experienced scientific committee will review submissions for 1-hour workshops, single-themed symposia with multiple speakers, 10-minute ‘Lightning Talks’, 25-minute papers presented live or pre-recorded (including 5 minutes for questions & discussion) or flipped pre-recorded presentations for 30-minute live discussions.

The language of ESFLC2021 will be English.


Halliday, M.A.K. (2015) The Influence of Marxism. In J. Webster (Ed.) The Bloomsbury Companion to M.A.K. Halliday. London: Bloomsbury

Piketty, T. & Goldhammer, A. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rose, D. & Martin, J.R. (2012) Learning to Write, Reading to Learn. Sheffield: Equinox

Submissions should align with one of these strands:

Advances in SFL research
Advances in SFL theory
Analysis of political discourse
Applied & Appliable linguistics
Critical & Positive Discourse Analysis
Discourse Analysis
Education & pedagogy, including multi-literacies
Legitimation Code Theory
Political economy
Synthesis of SFL with other approaches 

Key Dates

Call for Papers
1st March 2021

Submission opens
12th April 2021

Submission closes
20th June 2021

Notification of acceptance
30th July 2021

Early Bird Registration opens
4th August 2021
Register Online

Standard Registration
16th August 2021

Registration closes
10th September 2021

Conference starts
15th September 2021

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