ALL norms

Using artefacts to navigate ‘emic’ and ‘etic’ perspectives


  • Bronwyn James University of Sydney


This special issue asks us to reconsider or re-examine established norms and approaches to academic language and learning (ALL) theory, research, policy and practice. This further provokes the question of what in fact are these established norms? Through examining a number of journal articles, documents and projects that have formed and reflected the academic language and learning field in Australia over the past 10 years, I locate what might be understood as ALL ‘core beliefs’, but equally I argue that our norms, research, theory, policy and practice have always been multidimensional/multifaceted. I suggest that the challenge for us is not so much to establish, critique and then re-establish our norms, but rather to understand our multidimensionality from our own (emic) perspectives while, at the same time, looking for moments in which we can select from and position our multidimensionality in ways that are ‘recognisable’ within the dominant ‘etic’ frames of ‘intelligibility’ (Butler, 1997, 2004) that constitute the wider discourses impacting our specific institutional contexts. In other words, our challenge is to use our varying theoretical and practical framings to find potential points of leverage to enrich learning and teaching within the constraints that are always part of a constantly changing higher education environment.




How to Cite

James, B. (2020). ALL norms: Using artefacts to navigate ‘emic’ and ‘etic’ perspectives. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 14(2), 134–147. Retrieved from