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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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Globalization, Language(s), and Mobility

Globalization, Language(s), and Mobility

(p.383) 12 Globalization, Language(s), and Mobility
The Economics of Language Policy

Stephen May

The MIT Press

This paper explores the arguments offered in support of a new form of linguistic cosmopolitanism, within which English as the current world language inevitably plays a central/pivotal role. These arguments are illustrated via discussion of the work of three prominent political theorists, Abram de Swaan, Philippe Van Parijs and Daniele Archibugi, all of whom advocate this broad position. The conclusions drawn from their work are demonstrably apparent. In our increasingly globalized world, nation-states must incorporate English as the language of wider international connectedness and trade in a privileged diglossic relation to local languages. For individuals, English must either be a replacing language or, at the least, a key language in any individual’s bi/multilingual repertoire. At both the collective (state) and individual levels, the almost de rigueur assumption is that English is crucial for wider social and economic mobility. This paper problematizes this increasingly widespread and influential position by highlighting the following key limitations therein: the failure to address issues of power and inequality; the monolithic construction of English; the over-elaboration of the links between language and mobility; the deleterious implications for education; and the wider negative juxtaposition of supposedly local and global linguistic identities upon which these arguments are invariably based.

Keywords:   Linguistic cosmopolitanism, Abram de Swaan, Philippe Van Parijs, Daniele Archibugi, Monolithic construction of English, Language and mobility, Education implications, Local and global linguistic identities

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