Debating Swedish : Language Politics and Ideology in Contemporary Sweden

by Milani, Tommaso M.

Abstract (Summary)
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.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Languages and linguistics; Linguistic subjects; Bilingualism; bilingual education; citizenship; CDA; language debate; language ideology; language legislation; language politics; language testing; social theory; Sweden; tvåspråkighetsforskning; Bilingualism Research


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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