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Words at Work and Play
Three Decades in Family and Community Life

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textbook Award Winner
  • Date Published: February 2012
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521603034

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About the Authors
  • Childhood and family life have changed significantly in recent decades. What is the nature of these changes? How have they affected the use of time, space, work and play? In what ways have they influenced face-to-face talk and the uses of technology within families and communities? Eminent anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath sets out to find answers to these and similar questions, tracking the lives of 300 black and white working-class families as they reshaped their lives in new locations, occupations and interpersonal alignments over a period of thirty years. From the 1981 recession through the economic instabilities and technological developments of the opening decade of the twenty-first century, Shirley Brice Heath shows how families constantly rearrange their patterns of work, language, play and learning in response to economic pressures. This outstanding study is a must-read for anyone interested in family life, language development and social change.

    • The families studied in this book were introduced in Ways with Words (Cambridge University Press, 1983) so readers can see how their lives have developed
    • Looks at the changes in communication brought about by electronic media
    • Includes two appendices - one detailing the relationship between social history and ethnography, and biography and autobiography, and one describing the research methods used in collecting the data
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    • Honourable Mention, 2013 James Mooney Award, Southern Anthropological Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    "By following the children and grandchildren of Trackton and Roadville into adulthood, Heath provides a unique and moving account of how individuals' language use and lives are shaped by economic and technological developments. Like its predecessor, this is sure to be an instant classic."
    Deborah Tannen, Georgetown University and author of You Just Don't Understand and Talking Voices

    "The captivating story of how the black and white children Heath studied thirty years ago in her classic book Ways with Words managed to negotiate the American culture and economy."
    Allan Collins, Professor Emeritus of Learning Sciences, Northwestern University

    "A unique ethnography - at once, a decades-long portrait of families in the Piedmont Carolinas, a survey of the trials and opportunities of the working class, and a panaroma of America."
    Howard Gardner, author of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed

    "… shows what linguistic anthropology can accomplish in the voice of an accomplished and stylish writer. Heath brings empathy and understanding to the successive hardships and struggles of ordinary families in the USA … providing fascinating maps of the people’s migration patterns, their changing ways of engaging with play and work, and the language interactions among parents and children."
    Brian Street, Professor Emeritus of Language in Education, King's College London

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521603034
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus. 3 maps 8 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. On being long in company
    2. A boy finds his mama(s)
    3. The closeness of strangers
    4. Embracing talk
    5. Lines of vision
    6. The hand of play
    7. Ways with time and words
    8. Shaping the mainstream.

  • Author

    Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University, California
    Shirley Brice Heath, a leading social historian and ethnographer of family life, is Margery Bailey Professor of English and Dramatic Literature and Professor of Linguistics, Emerita, at Stanford University. Her previous publications include Ways with Words: Language, Life, and Work in Communities and Classrooms (Cambridge University Press, 1983) and On Ethnography (2008, with Brian Street).


    • Honourable Mention, 2013 James Mooney Award, Southern Anthropological Society

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