Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Evelyn Wright

Committee Member

Rebecca Adams

Committee Member

Ronald Fuentes

Committee Member

Sage Graham


Bidialectal African American families are caught in a Family Language Policy (FLP) dilemma in which the goals of belonging in African American communities, and feeling free and relaxed with language, conflict with parents’ interactional, relational, and political goals of raising children who are accepted in the wider society as educated, respectful, and powerful. This study brings together research in FLP with research on race and language by looking at African American families and how they socialize their children into using AAL Researching the relationship between racial identity and language and the role of racism in FLP for African American parents in particular focuses on a missing factor in many FLP studies, family-external racism. By expanding FLP from blanket determinations of success with their streamlining effects, the field can develop a more inclusive approach that blends families’ linguistic goals, contribute to understanding how bidialectalism is intergenerationally experienced, and how systemic oppression and human agency interact in the family, as well as add depth and complexity to our understanding of AA families’ language policy. To explore the intimate domain of language policy within the 10 AA family homes, qualitative methods – surveys, group family interviews, in-home recordings – and an ethnographic approach to investigating the families’ language policy is employed. Interesting patterns emerged in their responses that lead to the suggestion that race and language are inseparable since they are linked to individuals’ racial identity. This study concludes that if family language researchers are excluding racism as an external factor in their research analysis, whether implicitly or explicitly, they are not providing a comprehensive account of the rationale behind distinct language ideologies, planning, and practices, they are missing important theoretical and practical constructs, and they are limiting the understanding of what causes parents to make particular language decisions.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access