Managing people with language: language policy, planning and practice in multilingual blue-collar workplaces
Journal article by Kellie Gonçalves in Language Policy, published 25 August 2020.
Against the backdrop of global mobilities—the unprecedented circulation of people and socio-cultural practices—this special issue of Language Policy centers on the latest conditions of language policy, planning and practices taking place in diverse ‘blue-collar’ workplaces around the world as a result of postmodern economies that have witnessed an expansion of precarious working conditions (Standing 2011; Serwe in press). Currently, we are residing in what Elliott and Urry have termed ‘the golden age of mobility’ where “massive social changes are implicated in the ever-increasing movement of people, things, capital, information and ideas around the globe” (2010: ix). Within this context, language as a resource—whether symbolic, interactional, material or ideological—flows, changes and is used by specific and often very powerful social agents to manage individuals in their daily workplaces. Historically oriented scholars may advocate that what we are experiencing today in terms of globalizing forces and transnational migration is nothing new (Kellner 2002). The perspective taken in this issue is that while globalization and transnational interdependencies (Vertovec 2009) are not new, they have and continue to affect the rise of a new globalized economy and thus a ‘new’, international division of labor (Lutz 2011), which, among other corollaries, affects how socio-cultural practices, one of which is language, is being utilized, conceptualized, practiced and managed in innovative and different ways by both employers and employees in various workplace contexts globally.