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Voices of authority in conflict: The making of the expert in a Swedish language debate
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
2007 (English)In: Linguistics and Education, ISSN 0898-5898, Vol. 18, no 2, 99-120 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present paper aims to investigate an aspect of a recent public debate about bilingual education in Sweden. Focusing on the textual exchanges between some of the academics who intervened in the debate in the columns of one of the leading Swedish dailies, Dagens Nyheter, the paper will draw upon performativity theory to argue that expertise in language debates is a complex phenomenon which is constantly enacted and contested through discourse. Rather than pre-positing who is the expert and therefore speaks with authority in a given matter, the paper will try to tease out some of the strategies that social actors, under certain discursive constraints, deploy to construct their competence in a specific issue, thus investing their statements with authority.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier inc , 2007. Vol. 18, no 2, 99-120 p.
Keyword [en]
Authenticity; Authority; Bilingual education; Expertise; Ideology; Language debate; Performativity
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24284DOI: 10.1016/j.linged.2007.07.002OAI: diva2:197153
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6831Available from: 2007-05-18 Created: 2007-05-18 Last updated: 2010-10-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Debating Swedish: Language Politics and Ideology in Contemporary Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Debating Swedish: Language Politics and Ideology in Contemporary Sweden
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is concerned with three language debates that reached their most crucial peaks in Sweden at the beginning of the twenty-first century: (i) the debate on the promotion of the Swedish language, (ii) the debate on language testing for citizenship, and (iii) the debate on mother tongue instruction. The main scope of the thesis is to take a theoretically multi-pronged approach to these debates trying to shed light on the following aspects: Why did such debates emerge when they did? Which discourses were available in those specific historical moments? Who are the social actors that intervened in these debates? What is at stake for them? What do they claim? What systems of values, ideas and beliefs – i.e. ideologies – underlie such claims? What are the effects in terms of identities, objects of political intervention, commonsensical knowledge and authority that these discourses and ideologies produce?

Taking Sweden as a case in point, the thesis adds to the existing literature another example of how language debates are the manifestation of conflicts between different language ideologies that struggle for hegemony, thus attempting to impose one specific way of envisaging the management of a nation-state in a time of globalisation. In their outer and most patent facets, these struggles deal with the relationships between languages in today’s Sweden, and how the state, through legislation, should – or should not – regulate such relationships in order to (re)produce some kind of linguistic order. However, the thesis also illustrates that when social actors appeal to a linguistic order, they not only draw boundaries between different languages in a given society, but they also bring into existence a social world in which the speakers of those languages come to occupy specific social positions. These linguistic and social hierarchies, in turn, are imbricated in an often implicit moral regime of what counts as good or bad, acceptable or taboo in that society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Centrum för tvåspråkighetsforskning, 2007. 51 p.
Dissertations in Bilingualism, ISSN 1400-5921
bilingual education, citizenship, CDA, language debate, language ideology, language legislation, language politics, language testing, social theory, Sweden
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Bilingualism Research
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6831 (URN)978-91-7155-422-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-09, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2007-05-18 Created: 2007-05-18Bibliographically approved

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