In line with a critical reflexivity that involves interrogating how the knowledge produced by sociolinguistics is related to other sources of interests, investments, and opinion (Snell, 2018), we examine the participation of language scholars in public discussions and the place of research in their arguments. The context of our study is Catalonia, a region in which sociolinguists have publicly expressed diverging opinions on the consequences of bilingualism: whereas for some language decay and death is an inevitable outcome of a prolonged situation of societal bilingualism, others question the idea that societal bilingualism inevitably leads to language death. The aim of this paper is twofold: first, to scrutinise the way sociolinguists and other language professionals refer to ‘science’ and ‘scientific evidence’ when supporting their arguments in public appearances; and secondly, to analyse how sociolinguists engage in the public sphere, not only in their role of experts but also as social actors who position themselves with respect to language-in-society debates. Drawing on the theoretical framework of stancetaking (Dubois, 2007; Jaffe, 2009), we analyse a selection of public statements by sociolinguists and other language professionals in recent language debates as well as the outcome of five interviews to (socio)linguistics scholars from Catalan universities. Our findings show that scientific knowledge is intertwined with beliefs, values and ideologies in public discussions. We conclude that the public sphere stimulates the overlap of sociolinguists’ identities as social scientists and academics as well as active citizens and language advocates/activists.