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LINGUIST List 23.4973

Wed Nov 28 2012

Review: Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics: Duchene & Heller (2011)

Editor for this issue: Rajiv Rao <rajivlinguistlist.org>

Date: 28-Nov-2012
From: Philip Duncan <naluku.edu>
Subject: Language in Late Capitalism
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/22/22-5021.html

Editor: Alexandre Duchêne
Editor: Monica Heller
Title: Language in Late Capitalism
Subtitle: Pride and Profit
Series Title: Routledge Critical Studies in Multilingualism
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Year: 2011

Reviewer: Philip T. Duncan, University of Kansas

EDITORS: Duchêne, Alexandre and Heller, Monica
TITLE: Language in Late Capitalism
SUBTITLE: Pride and Profit
SERIES TITLE: Routledge Critical Series in Multilingualism
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
YEAR: 2011

Philip T. Duncan, Department of Linguistics, University of Kansas


The first in a new series on multilingualism, “Language in Late Capitalism:
Pride and Profit” argues that the last three decades have witnessed the
emergence of new discourses relating to language and identity. Rather than
displacing nationalistic-type discourses, the contributors to this volume
demonstrate that discourses within this recent period, identified as late
capitalism, are increasingly characterized by two interwoven tropes, “pride”
and “profit.” Their interaction creates a nexus of nationalism, globalization,
and neoliberalism. The authors of “Language in Late Capitalism” demonstrate
that these old and new discourses are not only “intertwined in complex ways”
(Heller & Duchêne, this volume: 3), they are co-constitutive and “inextricably
linked” (Heller & Bell, this volume: 167). This book provides a broad array of
new approaches to language, identity, and power that suggest expanding
traditional sociolinguistic methods in unique ways to account for novel
discourses marked by economic terms and ideologies.

Chapter 1, written by editors Monica Heller and Alexandre Duchêne, serves as
an introduction both to the volume’s overarching and “co-constitutive” themes
of “pride” and “profit” as well as a general theoretical guide to each of the
individual papers included. “Pride” is here understood in nationalistic terms,
as a “product of the modern nation-state”(Heller & Duchêne, this volume: 4)
that functions as a means of self-legitimization, structuring, contestation,
(re)imagination, and maintenance. “Profit” is viewed in economic terms, and
often relates to how linguistic adeptness can be exploited in the
globalized/globalizing market. Heller and Duchêne consider “pride” and
“profit” to be “keywords” in the sense of McElhinny (2007), that is, as
socially consequential and contested loci. These operate as central tropes in
this volume because the authors propose that a current shift, which first
began in the 1990s, is taking place in discourses on language and culture.
Heller and Duchêne maintain that this shift represents a break from former
hegemony and is uniquely distinguished by the discursive construction of
language in economic terms, such as “added value.” Consequently, the
centrality of language, and, in particular, linguistic variability and
multilingualism, is a core feature of late capitalism. Moreover, Heller and
Duchêne argue that the economic shift vis à vis language are characterized by
five “interconnected processes”: “the saturation of markets,” “expansion,”
“distinction” or “added value,” “tertiarization,” and “flexibilization.” This
chapter also introduces the concept of “linguistic taylorism,” which is
salient throughout the book. Drawing from Frederick W. Taylor’s (1911) concept
of scientific management, linguistic taylorism involves commodifying and
managing language for market efficiency.

In Chapter 2, Susan Gal analyzes European Union policies and individual
reactions to such (as described in ethnographic reports) to show how “pride”
and “profit” play a critical role in forming an ideology of differentiation in
a suprastate institutional setting. In this chapter, Gal draws conceptually
from her previous work on linguistic differentiation (Gal & Irvine, 1995;
Irvine & Gal, 2001). Rather than situating “pride” and “profit” as entirely
innovative tropes in the landscape of late capitalism, she traces their
history and continued discursive salience from eighteenth century European
nation-state discourses, through processes of monolingual standardization in
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to more recent counter-hegemonic
projects aiming at promoting multilingualism. Attending to historical change
in the end foregrounds continuity, which Gal demonstrates by showing how
“fractal recursion” -- the projecting of oppositions like “pride”/“profit” --
resurfaces in iterations. Accordingly, as Gal notes, “the ‘pride’/‘profit’
axis is very broadly distributed” (Gal, this volume: 35), which she evidences
by drawing from texts in various spaces, times, and social strata. Attending
to history also enables Gal to maintain that there is no direct link between
“processes of late capitalism” and “linguistic practices and policies” (22).
Instead, she argues that language ideologies in the form of tropes and frames
“mediate between political economy and linguistic practices” (22). Her
chapter portrays language diversity in tension in two ways. For example, the
linguistic forms used to construct “pride” and “profit” are creatively and
oppositionally valued along what Gal terms an “axis of differentiation” (24)
that “creates contrasting values and posits linguistic forms that index them”
(40). The contrastive nature of linguistic terms on opposite poles of the axis
pertains to a unique semiotic organization, which means that “language
ideologies have a logic of their own that requires analytical attention” (40).

Chapter 3, by Alfonso del Percio and Alexandre Duchêne, is based on the
analysis of a single setting in a single text: the St. Jakob-Park football
(i.e., soccer for U.S. readers) stadium as portrayed in the 2010 promotional
DVD for Football Club Basel in Switzerland. From their analysis, Del Percio
and Duchêne propose that language in this context plays a critical role in
“struggles” (Del Percio & Duchêne, this volume: 44) for identity and
authenticity, as well as nurturing “pride” and generating “profit.” As they
indicate, the site that Del Percio and Duchêne choose for their analysis is of
particular interest in examining the role of language in late capitalism
because the increased commercialization of football from the club’s recent
success has stimulated new discourses and practices on identity and legitimacy
(i.e. ,“pride”) and generated new economic interests (i.e., “profit”). Here,
the local and non-/trans-local exist together in tension in unique ways.

Chapter 4 is based on Jacqueline Urla’s analysis of her ethnographic research
on the Basque language revival movement in Spain, which investigates a
somewhat unpredicted outcome of globalization; instead of experiencing a
universal trend toward linguistic homogeneity, some minority language
communities are experiencing increased legitimacy. However, it is not this
fact alone but the processes that informed such a shift that makes the
phenomenon of interest for the present volume. Urla looks at discourses on
language advocacy to show that the shift in favor of minority languages has a
distinctly capitalistic flair. That is, Basque language advocates began to
appropriate neoliberal political ideologies and consider “[t]he logics of
markets and entrepreneurialism” to be “fully transferrable frameworks” (Urla,
this volume: 75) for actualizing language revival. Urla terms the activists’
work “Total Quality language revival” (77) because she traces how revivalists
integrated “labor management techniques” (74) from Total Quality Management
(i.e., a “managerial strategy” [74] that emerged in the 1980s) into their
language planning. Her analysis also shows that the directionality of
market-based approaches to Basque language revival was bottom-up;
grassroots/populist movements first adopted neoliberal strategies, which
eventually came to be utilized in official government policy.

In Chapter 5, Joan Pujolar and Kathryn Jones look at how Catalonian uses of
language, literature, and landscape work in concert to create national
identity through heritage practices, in particular, tourism. Pujolar and Jones
highlight the “ambivalent and contradictory ways” (Pujolar, this volume: 94)
in which the tropes of “pride” and “profit” are constructed in this context:
Catalan tourist sites function both as a means of commodifying local identity
for global consumption while simultaneously “resist[ing] the patterns of
linguistic practice” that globalization brings about (93-94). Similar to the
chapter by Susan Gal, Pujolar and Jones explore the historical context of
Catalan heritage social practices, which reveals that the transformation of
land into landscape for purposes of commodification and identity construction
have a rich history deeply interwoven with economic development. Though
Pujolar and Jones note that Catalan tourist sites share properties with other
sites around the world, such as being “space[s] where images of the territory
are produced, distributed, and consumed,” still, they identify an intimate
relationship that holds between Catalan literary sites and Catalan “cultural
nationalism” (112). Since the Catalan sites are embedded in and represent
“traditional forms of belonging” (112), they face the challenge of being
relegated to the margin due to the demands of a globalized marketplace
characterized by multilingualism.

In Chapter 6, Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese explore the construction,
maintenance, and transformation of nationalistic “Bengaliness” within four
postmigration diasporic contexts in English complementary schools. Blackledge
and Creese orient toward “pride” and “profit” in relation to (and as means of
achieving) distinction. That is, they argue that “pride” in the language of
the “homeland,” which is ascribed with degrees of value as a set of linguistic
resources, can engender distinction by forming a hierarchy of resources based
on legitimacy. This, in turn, relates to notions of access, as migrants who
are able to tap into the capital of higher value linguistic resources (as
forms of national pride) “gain a ‘profit of distinction’ over others”
(Blackledge & Creese, this volume: 117). Blackledge and Creese contend,
however, that individual migrants and communities of migrants are not solely
responsible for legitimizing some linguistic resources while delegitimizing
others. Indeed, the state can also contribute to the attribution of value,
legitimacy, and, therefore, distinction.

Michelle Daveluy’s contribution in Chapter 7 stems from her researching
language use in a military context, specifically, two Canadian Navy bases.
Daveluy demonstrates that two constraints shape dynamic language use on Navy
ships, both in times of war and peace. On the one hand, the Canadian Forces
are legally compelled to implement Canada’s official policy on bilingualism.
On the other hand, military personnel are constrained by the need to maximize
efficiency, which results in communication that is “focused, and more globally
oriented” (Daveluy, this volume: 143). This latter point is additionally
influenced by contextual (here, in the sense of socio-political and
historical) factors. In the post-Cold War era, the military acquired a
business management approach to basic administration that emphasized
profitability. The two tropes of “pride” and “profit” -- importantly appearing
together in the military context, and not just “pride” alone, as Daveluy notes
might be expected -- relate to these constraining factors in the following
ways. When “the logic of ethnonationalism,” that is, national pride including
both Francophone and Anglophone identities, is prominent, bilingualism reigns
and is viewed as a valuable asset (156). Alternatively, when situations
require that “the logic of military security and the logic of rational
management” prevail, so does monolingualism (156). Still, it should be noted
that the roles of “pride” and “profit” are not exclusionary. As Daveluy points
out, “pride in national order sustains profitable management of language use
in the context of military operations” (143).

Monica Heller and Lindsay Bell also analyze Canadian discourses in Chapter 8.
They follow the lineage of “pride” and “profit” as they originate from an
iconic symbol of Canadian national identity, an early twentieth century novel
that created a foundation for ideologies of nation, nature, and place. These
ideologies also informed and inform “the ethnolinguistic categorization that
organizes [Canadian] society” (Heller & Bell, this volume: 163). Heller and
Bell maintain that the novel’s influence still persists, but that the
relationship between past and present does not here entail immutability with
regard to how the two tropes function across time. Earlier discourses
reproduced “an image of fixed, rooted and homogeneous communities” (162).
However, the (re)production of these discourses depended on a “gendered and
classed process of erasure of the labor mobility required for community
reproduction” (162), which engendered lasting contradictions (for example,
regarding Francophone identity and how it is marketed) that are now being
resisted. Heller and Bell demonstrate, from working with Francophone workers
and residents of two urban centers in the Northwest Territories, that present
discourses are turning the old “fragile fiction of fixed community” (163) on
its head in ways that are unevenly distributed. The contestation of previous
discourses produces sites “where pride-profit related tensions emerge” (178).
For Heller and Bell, the tensions and contradictions they observed signal two
possible outcomes: the repackaging of older versions of “gender, class, and
Frenchness”; or, more optimistically, “the capacity to undermine future
reproductions of the mobility/fixity contradiction and its concomitant
tensions” (179).

In Chapter 9, Beatriz P. Lorente analyzes Philippine newspapers and government
documents to understand the function of language use as the Philippines become
a “labor brokerage state,” (Lorente, this volume: 184) that is, one that
deploys its citizens globally, thus generating profitable return for the
nation-state. Her chapter highlights glocalization in the sense that both
global and local forces cooperate to shape language use. Lorente details how,
in response to globalization, the Philippine government engages in discursive
strategies of legitimization to commodify labor for use in the global market.
As we also see in the following chapter, Lorente shows that one way in which
linguistic taylorism operates is through standardization, wherein linguistic
resources of laborers are exploited (for example, by the nation-state) so that
the “competitive advantage” is maintained and does not diminish.

Josiane Boutet, in Chapter 10, describes the function of language (use) within
the relationship between “pride” and “profit” in terms of a shift taking place
in the period of late capitalism that “has made it possible to rationalize the
process of articulation” (Boutet, this volume: 223). This shift moves from
“languages and language activity” being “sources of pride” to “sources of
profit” (208). Boutet makes this shift visible by orienting toward “three
broad historical configurations [/‘assemblages’] of the language part of
work”: (1) the incompatibility of language(s) and work; (2) the
industrialization of language at work, which developed in the late 19th
century; and (3) the current configuration characterized by “extreme
merchandizing” of language faculties (208-209). Among the principal social
actors that emerge through the “managerial” shift that Boutet examines are
those that she calls “language workers” (208). These are human laborers whose
linguistic abilities come to the fore and are exploited in a globalized market
that expects integration of language activity into work to enable heightened
economic benefit. For example, Boutet discusses an increase in “teleworking”
as part of the globalization enterprise, which has significant social,
economic, and linguistic dimensions (216). Bi- and pluri-lingualism, as well
as “extreme standardization of vocal productions” encouraged by management
through training, play a central role in achieving profitability in telework’s
global expansion (217).

The closing chapter, by Bonnie McElhinny, provides not only a critique of the
use of the keyword “community of practice” (CofP) in business domains, but
also a self-reflexive critique of its use in the social sciences, particularly
in sociolinguistics. Within post-structuralist approaches, McElhinny comes
from the framework of material feminism to highlight fluctuations of identity
and how they are rooted in “historical shifts in the production of life under
late capitalism” (McElhinny, this volume: 230, from Hennessey & Ingraham,
1997: 9). She proposes that “elaborating the value of CofP becomes the
elaboration of certain ideologies” in the corporate world as well as in
academia (232). For the former, this can mean establishing a competitive
advantage and increasing marketability through functions like “socializing
novices” and enabling “innovation” (237). For the latter, CofP may have a
function of understanding the construction of language and social relations
and differences from a practice-based perspective. McElhinny sees CofP
operating differently in business circles in comparison to academic ones, but,
importantly, she does not see them as entirely distinct. She rejects the claim
that corporations hijacked CofP from social scientists, although she does not
explicitly suggest the opposite is more tenable. Instead, McElhinny orients
herself toward bidirectional influences between the academic and corporate
spheres, which entails that these domains and arenas of practice are not
“mutually uninfluential” (243). Ultimately, she proposes a reevaluation of
CofP as an analytic concept, noting that the perpetuation of this phrase in
academic realms can actually reify capitalistic ideologies (that researchers
may seek to transform) and be complicit in reproducing power inequalities.


Viewed collectively, the authors effectively demonstrate the immensely complex
nature of how “pride” and “profit” function, and also reveal how richly and
powerfully pervasive these tropes are. Indeed, “pride” and “profit” are
depicted as saturating multiple layers of social organization and linguistic
practice. Each of the chapters in “Language in Late Capitalism” exhibits a
strong tendency toward inter- and transdisciplinary research, as well as a
broad array of methodologies from a post-structuralist perspective (e.g.,
ethnography, participant observation, qualitative interviews, discourse
analysis, and feminist sociolinguistics).

In each of the contributions to this volume, the authors succeed in
contextualizing their analyses, especially with regard to history. Tending to
diachronic change and trends has several important upshots. For example,
addressing historical issues as they relate to specific issues in particular
locations buttresses the overall argumentation as well as provides the reader
with a better grasp of how the relationships between language, language use,
identity, and economy play out in diverse ways across time and space. Because
discourses and discourse topics fluctuate, the historical aspects of each
chapter illuminate how and when relevant ideologies emerged, ultimately
engendering transformations regarding language and language use. In other
words, the authors make discursive transitions -- and the complex interactions
underlying these transitions -- visible. Although the case studies included
are somewhat limited in scope (a point which the editors explicitly note), the
detailed case-specific histories exemplify the need for delineating
distinctive factors that affect the ways in which “pride” and “profit” play
out in specific language communities.

Additionally, developing a historical narrative serves to counter two
potential criticisms. On the one hand, when considering the volume as a whole,
“pride” and “profit” seem so powerful, so influential, and so encompassing
that, at times, they appear to be empty categories. That is, they almost
appear to be doing too much work such that anything remotely having to do with
national identity becomes “pride” while, similarly, anything remotely having
to do with economy and market is labeled “profit.” However, the authors
mitigate this problem by providing rich attention to historical narrative.
Moreover, this ultimately contributes to a strength of the overall argument by
presenting strong, detailed evidence suggesting that language in late
capitalism is indeed multifarious and complex, and this means that the way
language plays out in relation to “pride” and “profit” are vast. Secondly,
without rich, diachronic corpus data to support Duchêne and Heller’s principal
claim that there is a major discursive shift that emerged in the 1990s, this
claim initially comes across as an assumptive assertion. Again, though, the
individual histories in each chapter supply a strong rationale for accepting
the claim, as they demonstrate how context-dependent social, cultural,
economic, and linguistic elements contributed to create distinctive
configurations in the period they call “late capitalism.”

This volume is most suited for upper-level graduate students and researchers
with backgrounds in sociolinguistics and a good grasp of economics, processes
of globalization, and Bourdieusian Social Theory. Because of its prominent
interdisciplinary and methodological diversity, scholars outside of
sociolinguistics (and even the social sciences) may find it of benefit, as
well. Perhaps one of the strongest attributes of the volume as a whole is its
ability to maintain a unifying theme without adopting an overly-dogmatic
stance in terms of pushing a unified theory. As a result, the authors offer
their own analyses as models for continued investigation and critique, thus
opening possibilities for continued fruitful research.


Gal, Susan & Irvine, Judith T. 1995. The boundaries of languages and
disciplines: How ideologies construct difference. Social Research, 62(4),

Hennessey, Rosemary & Ingraham, Chrys. 1997. Introduction: Reclaiming
anticapitalist feminism. In H. Rosemary & C. Ingraham, (eds.), Material
Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives. New York:
Routledge, 1- 14.

Irvine, Judith T. & Gal, Susan. 2001. Language ideology and linguistic
differentiation. In P. Kroskrity (ed.), Regimes of Language. Santa Fe, NM:
School of American Research Press, 35-84.

McElhinny, Bonnie. 2007. Language, gender and economies in global transitions:
Provocative and provoking questions about how gender is articulated. In B.
McElhinny (ed.), Words, Worlds, Material Girls: Language and Gender in a
Global Economy. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1-38.

Taylor, Frederick W. 1913. Principles of Scientific Management. New York:
Harper & Brothers. (Original work published 1911)


Philip T. Duncan holds an M.A. in Indigenous Studies and is a graduate student
in Linguistics at the University of Kansas. His research interests include
language and ideology, discourse and memory, and the linguistic representation
of Indigenous peoples, especially in non-Indigenous contexts. He is currently
investigating how representation and remembering function in Christian Zionist
discourses from a critical discourse analytic perspective.
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