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The Economics of Language Policy$
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Michele Gazzola and Bengt-Arne Wickström

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034708

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034708.001.0001

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Fifty Years of Economics in Language Policy: Critical Assessment and Priorities

Fifty Years of Economics in Language Policy: Critical Assessment and Priorities

(p.21) 1 Fifty Years of Economics in Language Policy: Critical Assessment and Priorities
The Economics of Language Policy

François Grin

The MIT Press

This chapter offers a broad-based overview of language economics. Rather than assuming that the field can be characterized derivatively from the observation of “what economists do” when they talk about language, it proposes an analytical definition of language economics, in order to arrive at a theory-based typology of research. This results in a mental map of language economics, highlighting its connections with language policy. Since the first goal of this chapter is to provide orientation in language economics, it aims to be exhaustive in its identification of research directions but it does not discuss the contents of the latter in detail. I then focus on the application of language economics to the selection, design and evaluation of language policy and planning (LPP), emphasizing the need for economic analysis to embody sociolinguistic knowledge as a condition for practical relevance. This chapter also shows that reciprocally, sociolinguistic research, particularly when it is concerned with policy questions, significantly benefits from taking economic dimensions into account, since most LPP issues raise matters of efficiency and fairness that economics is comparatively well-equipped to address. In the closing section, four major research directions are identified as priorities for the future development of language economics.

Keywords:   Language economics, Economic theory, Policy analysis, Language policy, Interdisciplinarity

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