The concept context of situation introduced by Malinowski some eighty years ago has now become an essential element of the vocabulary of any linguistic theory whose aim it is to reveal the nature of language. With the abandonment of the spurious distinction between competence and performance, the process of language, i.e., language use, has claimed its rightful place in the study of language. The chapters of this book focus on the relations of context and text, conceptualising the latter as language operative in some recognizable social context. It is argued that context is not simply a backdrop for the occurrence of words; rather, it is an active element which on the one hand plays a crucial role in the progression of human discourse and on the other enters into and shapes the very nature of language as process and as system, furnishing the foundation for functionality in language. Acting as the interface between language and society, context analysis reveals the power of language for creating, maintaining, and changing human relationships.
Ruqaiya Hasan, who died in 2015, was a professor of linguistics who taught and held visiting positions at various universities in England. Her last appointment was at Macquarie University, Australia, from where she retired as Emeritus Professor in 1994.Jonathan J. Webster is Professor, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, and Director, The Halliday Centre for Intelligent Applications of Language Studies at the City University of Hong Kong.
Editor's Preface I LANGUAGE IN THE CONTEXT OF LIFE IN SOCIETY Editor's introduction1 Language and society in a systemic functional perspective  2 Meaning, context and text - fifty years after Malinowski  3 What's going on?: A dynamic view of context in language  4 Wherefore context?: the ontogenesis of context in the system and process of language  II TOWARDS A SYSTEM BASED ACCOUNT OF CONTEXT Editor's introduction 5 The conception of context in text  6 Speaking with reference to context  7 The place of context in a systemic functional model  8 Towards a paradigmatic description of context: systems, metafunctions, and semantics