The use of language in the contexts of society and culture is denoted by the term sociolinguistics. Sociolinguistics examines the relationship between language use and the social world, particularly how language operates within and creates social structures. Sociolinguistic studies have looked at speech communities based on social categories such as age, class, ethnicity, gender, geography, profession and sexual identity. (Coulmas 17; Spolsky 28). Trudgill defines Sociolinguistics, as “that part of linguistics which is concerned with language as a social and cultural phenomenon. It investigates the field of language and society and has close connections with the social sciences, especially social psychology, anthropology, human geography and sociology" (32).
American linguist William Labov has called sociolinguistics secular linguistics, "in reaction to the contention among many linguists working in a broadly Chomskyan framework that language can be dissociated from its social functions" (Siobhan and Christopher 35). In simpler words, sociolinguistics “is the study of language in use” (Bruthiaux 96). "Sociolinguistics includes anthropological linguistics, dialectology, and discourse analysis, ethnography of speaking, geolinguistics, language contact studies, secular linguistics, the social psychology of language and the sociology of language." (Trudgill 13).
Micro-sociolinguistics refers to research with a linguistic slant, often focusing on dialect and stylistic/ registers variation. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods have been employed to explore such linguistic phenomena as phonological differences between dialects or discourse variation between male and female speakers. Macro-sociolinguistics looks at the behaviours of entire speech communities, exploring issues such as why immigrant communities retain their native languages in some social contexts but not in others, or how social identity can affect language choice (Coulmas 20-22).
Micro linguistics deals with phonetics, grammar, etc. on the individual example level; Macro linguistics deals with comparative studies among languages, language families, and large influences on language development (Holmes 13). On the basis of investigative data it is possible to chart the spread of innovations in accent and dialect regionally” (Finch, 67). Micro Sociolinguistics involves the social and linguistic influence on specific linguistic features. They look at individual differences and the way they are used e.g. the variation between 'singing' and 'singin''. Macro Sociolinguistics studies about language and communication more generally. Look at language data on a wider scale which leads to generalisations and conclusions to be identified e.g. the choices made about conversational structure (Wardhaugh 78).
Bruthiaux, Paul. The Discourse of Classified Advertising .United States of America: Oxford University Press.1996. Print.
Chapman, Siobhan and Routledge, Christopher, eds. Key Thinkers in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005.Print.
Coulmas, F. The Handbook of sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. Print.
Finch, Geoffrey. Linguistic Terms and Concepts. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan. 2000. Print.
Holmes, J. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Essex: Pearson Education Limited. 2001. Print.
Spolsky, Bernard. Sociolinguistics. United States of America: Oxford University Press.1998. Print.
Trudgill, Peter. Sociolinguistics: an introduction. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Print.
Trudgill, Peter. A Glossary of Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003. Print.
Wardhaugh, R. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Blackwell publishing Ltd.2006. Print.