European Journal of Language Policy

Market models of language policy: A view from Estonia

European Journal of Language Policy (2009), 1, (2), 137–146.

Abstract

This article, based on extended ethnographic research on the Võro language revival, considers the socio-cultural context of language policy in Estonia. I focus on the complex relationship between civil society and the state in shaping language policy. In particular, I examine the way language advocates have capitalised on their new-found freedoms, a web of identities, and decentralised language policy, as well as Estonia's membership of European organisations to pursue a diverse set of programmes, research and projects. The result is best characterised as a kind of market policy, whose unique benefits and limitations merit broad discussion. A series of programmes embedded in this competitive market model replace what may be regarded as a comprehensive language policy with a clear line of development. Although this market policy model has significant drawbacks, it provides civil society organisations with great freedoms to design and carry out the project once they receive funding. I discuss these aspects of the Võro case in an effort to broaden the dialogue about the relationship between civil society and the language-policy process in twenty-first century Europe.

Cet article sort de recherches ethnographiques sur le renouveau de la langue Vöro, et examine le contexte socio-culturel de la politique linguistique en Estonie. Nous analysons le rapport complexe entre la société civile et l'état dans la formation des politiques linguistiques. En particulier, nous examinons la façon dont les partisans de cette langue minoritaire ont poursuivi un ensemble divers de programmes, de recherches et de projets, mettant en valeur leurs libertés, nouvellement découvertes, les réseaux issus des identités, un politique linguistique décentralisée, et l'appartenance de l'Estonie aux organisations européennes. Le résultat se caractérise comme une sorte de politique du marché, dont les avantages uniques et les limites méritent une discussion plus large. Une série de programmes exhibe ce « modèle de marché concurrentiel » qui remplace une politique linguistique compréhensive par une ligne claire de développement. Bien que ce modèle ait des désavantages considérables, il fournit aux organisations de la société civile une liberté accrue pour concevoir et mettre en œuvre des projets, une fois le financement reçu. Nous discutons ces aspects de l'exemple Vöro dans la perspective d'un dialogue élargi sur le rapport entre la société civile et les processus de politique linguistique en Europe au XXIe siècle.

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Brown, Kara