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Title: Aspiring to be global : language, mobilities, and social change in a tourism village in China
Author: Gao, Shuang
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 6973
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis contributes to our understanding of the sociolinguistics of globalization by examining a tourism site in Yangshuo County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. A former residential neighborhood street West Street (Xi Jie) in Yangshuo has been gaining increasing popularity among domestic Chinese tourists, known as a 'global village' and 'English Corner', as Yangshuo transformed from an agriculture-based into a tourism-based economy during the past three decades. This observed tourism development in West Street differs from existing research in other tourism communities (see e.g. Heller 2003; Coupland, Garret and Bishop 2005; Thurlow and Jaworski 2010) in that its sociohistorical transformation involves the re-evaluation of non-local, instead of local, linguistic resources. This study investigates this socio-historical change as an issue for the sociolinguistics of mobility (Blommaert 2010), wherein the English language, along with other semiotic resources, is appropriated and commodified for domestic Chinese tourists. Specifically, it seeks to address how has West Street become a 'global village' and 'English Corner'? What are the tensions arising from this socio-historical change? And what is the role of language and communication in the tensions that arise from the re-imagination of West Street as a global village and English Corner? To address these questions, I look at data collected both online and during three-month fieldwork. These include tourism promotional discourses, tourist writings online, (participant) observations, interviews, field notes, documents, and signage. In analyzing these data, I draw on insights from sociolinguistics, tourism studies, human geography, and applied linguistics to provide multidimensional analytical perspectives into the 'global village', including place-making, tourist identity and stance, multifunctionality of space, and educational tourism. It is shown that the observed socio-historical transformation cannot be simply explained as an inevitable result of globalization in the sense of westernization; the touristic significance of the 'global village' corresponds to the changing ideologies of tourism and language in a globalizing China where touring has become a consumer activity and the English language a marker of social status. Nevertheless, it is also shown that there are tensions arising from this socio-historical change, as shown in the contested negotiation of the meaning of the 'global village' among tourists, local people, and English language learners. More specifically, the 'global village' appeals to emerging middle class Chinese people with xiaozi aspirations, who are nevertheless mocked and criticized by people claiming to be more knowledgeable and sophisticated (see Chapter 4); the commercial development of the 'global village' during the second wave of mass commercialization is also fraught with tensions in the use and functionality of space among different groups of people (see Chapter 5); and English language learners seeking to talk with foreigners is caught in what I call interactional straining (see Chapter 6). These tensions indicate that the English language, as one important semiotic resource commodified in this global village, has contested meanings as a language of globalization and upward social mobility, and the globalization experience in this 'global village' is characterized by class and taste based dynamics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available