The interest in Language as a topic of analysis in British sociology has emerged within the last thirty years and has developed in four general directions. First, the work of Bernstein (1974) offered a synthetic method for the exploration and constitution of the links between social structure and everyday speech. Secondly, varieties of conversational analysis grounded in the work of Garfinkel and particularly Sacks studied the systematics of conversational practices and the routine production of sense in language in use (Wootton, 1978). Thirdly, in the area of ‘cultural studies’ speech and language provided an area of focus in the analysis of subcultures and media processes (Glasgow Media Group, 1978; Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1976); the emergence of semiotics also contributed to the interest in Language in this area and attempts have been made to develop a materialist-grounded semiotics which brings together Marxism, psychoanalysis and the sign on the common ground of Language (Screen). Fourthly, the influence of phenomenology and ordinary language philosophy contributed to the emergence of a reflexively oriented sociological practice which placed all analysis in the context of the relation between speech and Language (Roche, 1973; Sandy well et al., 1976). Each of these approaches has taken Language as at least partially if not wholly constitutive of the social world as a sensible phenomenon, but all, with the exception of the last, have directed their questions outwards towards the social world as a phenomenon independent of itself; they have not explored the possible consequences for their own practice of a constitutive sense of Language.