“JustWork”: In pursuit of linguistic justice in the workplace

The purpose of this three-year project is to explore multilingual policies, practices, and perspectives in the context of Polish migrants in the workplace in Norway.

Aleksandra Olszewska smiling and wearing a bright blue top

Aleksandra Olszewska (photo: Nadia Frantsen/UiO)

About the project

The broad aim of this project is to examine multilingual policies, practices, and perspectives of Polish migrants in the workplace in Norway. Ultimately, the purpose of this project is to ensure Polish migrants with equitable language policies and practices in professional spaces and improve mutual understanding between Norwegians and Poles.

Currently, Poles constitute the largest migration group in Norway with an estimate of 100,000. As language skills are assumed to be crucial for professional success, the knowledge of Norwegian or lack of thereof can include or exclude individuals from professional spaces and full integration with the host country (Rye & Andrzejewska, 2010). Studies have shown that a number of Polish migrants are stereotyped and considered as inferior; exploited on economic basis; and disqualified from integration policies, including language courses (Gmaj, 2018; van Riemsdijk, 2013).

Guided by the constructs of language policy (Shohamy, 2006), linguistic justice (Skutnabb-Kangas & Phillipson, 1995) and languaging (Blackledge & Creese, 2010; García & Wei, 2014), this qualitative study draws upon narrative analysis (De Fina, 2021; De Fina & King, 2011) to gain in-depth understanding of the complexities of policies, practices, and perspectives in the context of Polish migrants in Norway.

This postdoctoral project is a sub-project of NorPol


Findings of this study can be helpful in designing and improving Norwegian-as-a-second-language trainings aimed primarily at workplace communication. There is also an urgent need to train Norwegian employers to create linguistically just workplace settings for Polish migrants. A better understanding of language policies, practices and perspectives of Poles in Norway may lead to a more inclusive integration for the increasing immigration population of Poles in Norway and to an improved mutual understanding between Polish migrants and Norwegians.

Research questions

(1) What are the language policies of work settings in Norway in the context of Polish migrants, and which factors of those policies promote/ hinder communication between Poles and Norwegians?
(2) What do language practices between Poles and Norwegians look like?
(3) What are Polish migrants’ perspectives related to their language strengths, difficulties, challenges, and needs while navigating workplace settings?


Blackledge, A., & Creese, A. (2010). Multilingualism: A critical perspective. Continuum International.

De Fina, A. (2021). Doing narrative analysis from a narratives-as-practices perspective. Narrative Inquiry31(1), 49-71.

De Fina, A., & King, K. A. (2011). Language problem or language conflict? Narratives of immigrant women’s experiences in the US. Discourse Studies13(2), 163-188.

García, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism, and education. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gmaj, K. (2018). “Appropriating” Norway – Polish migrants’ settlement patterns in Norway. Studia Migracyjne-Przegląd Polonijny44(1), 163-188.

Rye, J. F., & Andrzejewska, J. (2010). The structural disempowerment of Eastern European migrant farm workers in Norwegian agriculture. Journal of Rural Studies26(1), 4151.

Shohamy, E. (2006). Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. Routledge.

Skutnabb-Kangas, T., & Phillipson, R. (1995). Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic discrimination. Mouton de Gruyter.

van Riemsdijk, M. (2013). Everyday geopolitics, the valuation of labour and the socio political hierarchies of skill: Polish nurses in Norway. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies39(3), 373-390.


2021 - 2024

Published Jan. 4, 2022 9:32 AM - Last modified Jan. 4, 2022 9:48 PM