Workplace Communication Practices and Policies

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This chapter addresses the issue of communication policy in the workplace. Modern workplaces are multinational and multilingual. Both white and blue collar employees interact in languages other than their L1 as part of their daily reality at work. At the same time a number of workplaces have introduced a ‘one language policy’ as a strategy to manage linguistic diversity as well as to encourage integration and, allegedly, shared decision making. Research has repeatedly shown, however, that this is a political and ideological decision rather than a purely linguistic one. Languages have different symbolic power and this is reflected in the linguistic ecosystem of the various work settings. In this chapter, we discuss issues around language use, language policy and language ideology in the workplace as well as gatekeeping. We draw on our recently completed and ongoing work as well as illustrative studies from socio and applied linguistics research. Special attention is paid to the notions of symbolic capital and power as well as to language attitudes particularly in relation to linguistic evaluation and ‘common sense’ perceptions of language practice. We explore the relationship between language policy and access to the workplace and we discuss examples from blue and white collar workplaces. We close the chapter with some terminological considerations and we identify areas for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Migration and Language
EditorsSuresh Canagarajah
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication dateMay 2017
ISBN (Print)978-1138801981
Publication statusPublished - May 2017
SeriesRoutledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics

ID: 137080073