European Journal of Language Policy

Language planning in the European Union: A micro-level perspective

European Journal of Language Policy (2010), 2, (2), 251–270.

Abstract

Language policy is traditionally understood in research as the attempt of official power to implement regulations concerning the behaviour towards language within a socio-political context. Language policy and planning studies, therefore, often focus on the broader, socio-political, dimensions of the topic, highlighting discrepancies and contradictions that language policies tend to create – vis-à-vis minority groups, the economy, and other social actors. In most studies, however, the micro-interactive decision-making process underlying language policy itself is ignored, although an appreciation of this process would contribute significantly to understanding why, and how, language policies come into existence in the first place. This paper is intended to address this shortfall by looking more closely at language planning processes of European Union policy-makers as a case in point. The paper seeks to highlight spontaneous and individual discursive activity as a relevant factor in the construction of language planning discourses. The authors argue that a micro-interactive perspective contributes to the study of language planning when analysing inconsistencies or discrepancies in discourse. Using linguistic social psychology as a methodological framework, the authors discuss excerpts from semi-structured interviews with EU policy-makers with regard to the conflict potential language policies present to individual stakeholders and the ways these conflicts are (not) reflected during interaction.

La linguistique politique est traditionnellement considérée comme une tentative du pouvoir officiel de mettre en vigueur des régulations en matière de comportement linguistique dans un contexte sociopolitique donné. Les études portant sur la politique linguistique et sur l'aménagement des langues focalisent donc souvent sur les dimensions plus larges, voire sociopolitiques du sujet en mettant en évidence les décalages ou les contradictions que les politiques linguistiques ont tendance à créer à l'égard de groupes minoritaires, de l'économie ou envers d'autres acteurs sociaux. La plupart des études ignorent cependant le processus micro-interactif de la prise de décision qui est à la base de la politique linguistique elle-même ; pourtant l'appréciation de ce processus pourrait contribuer de manière significative à la compréhension des raisons et des manières dont les politiques linguistiques se forment dans un premier temps. Cet article fait ressortir cette lacune en examinant de plus près les processus de planification langagière des décideurs politiques au sein de l'UE. Son but est de mettre en évidence certaines activités discursives spontanées et individuelles comme facteurs importants de la construction des discours d'aménagement linguistique. Les auteurs soutiennent qu'une perspective micro-interactive contribue à l'étude de l'aménagement linguistique lors de l'analyse des divergences ou des contradictions dans un discours. En utilisant la psychologie sociale comme cadre méthodologique, les auteurs analysent des extraits d'entretiens semi-directifs avec des décideurs politiques de l'UE tout en démontrant le potentiel de conflit de la politique linguistique pour des acteurs individuels, de même que les manières dont ces conflits sont pris/ne sont pas pris en considération durant l'interaction.

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Billig, M. (1991). Ideology and Opinions. Studies in Rhetorical Psychology (London: Sage). Ideology and Opinions. Studies in Rhetorical Psychology Google Scholar

Cooper, R. L. (1989). Language Planning and Social Change (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Language Planning and Social Change Google Scholar

Davies, B., and R. Harré (1990). 'Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves', Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 20.1: 43–63. Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 20 43 63 Google Scholar

Gumperz, J. J. (1992 [1982]). Discourse Strategies (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Google Scholar

Gumperz, J. J., (2003). 'Interactional Sociolinguistics: A Personal Perspective', in D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen and H. E. Hamilton (eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers). Interactional Sociolinguistics: A Personal Perspective The Handbook of Discourse Analysis Google Scholar

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Harré, R., and F. Moghaddam (2003). The Self and Others. Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political, and Cultural Contexts (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers). The Self and Others. Positioning Individuals and Groups in Personal, Political, and Cultural Contexts Google Scholar

Hymes, D. (1974). Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach Google Scholar

Kvale, S. (1996). Inter Views: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage). Google Scholar

Levinson, S. C. (1998). 'Activity Types and Language', in P. Drew and J. Heritage (eds.), Talk at Work. Interaction in Institutional Settings (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Activity Types and Language Talk at Work. Interaction in Institutional Settings Google Scholar

Mishler, E. G. (1999). Storylines: Craft Artists' Narratives of Identity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University). Storylines: Craft Artists' Narratives of Identity Google Scholar

Rubin, H. J., and I. S. Rubin (1995). Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage). Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data Google Scholar

Sarbin, T. (1986). 'The Narrative as a Root Metaphor for Psychology', in T. R. Sarbin (ed.), Narrative Psychology. The Storied Nature of Human Conduct (New York, Westport, CT, and London: Praeger Publishers). The Narrative as a Root Metaphor for Psychology Narrative Psychology. The Storied Nature of Human Conduct Google Scholar

Studer, P., F. Kreiselmaier and M. Flubacher (2008). Language Policy-Planning in a European Context (Arbeitspapier 43) (Bern: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft). Arbeitspapier 43 Language Policy-Planning in a European Context Google Scholar

Warren, C. A. B., and J. K. Hackney (2000). Gender Issues in Ethnography, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage). Gender Issues in Ethnography Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Studer, Patrick

Kreiselmaier, Felicia

Flubacher, Mi-Cha

Studer, Patrick

Kreiselmaier, Felicia

Flubacher, Mi-Cha