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A concept introduced by the English sociologist Basil Bernstein (1924–2000) to denote an informal use of language, linked to immediate situations (context bound), with a reduced semantic and syntactic range, supposedly characteristic of lower-working-class speakers, in contrast to middle-class speakers who have access to both a restricted and an elaborated code. The theory is often reduced to the proposition that, owing to differences in the linguistic resources available to them, middle-class people are capable of abstract reasoning, whereas lower-working-class people are not; but Bernstein argued vigorously against this interpretation. Bernstein first drew attention to social class differences in language in an article in the British Journal of Sociology in 1958, and he developed the concept further in two articles in the journal Language and Speech in 1962 and in numerous subsequent publications.

Subjects: Psychology.

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