AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

The Revaluation of the National Language in a Post-National Era: Language Policy and the Governance of Migration and Citizenship

by Jeffrey Darren Millar

Institution: York University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Linguistics ; English as a second language ; Education policy
Record ID: 2058698
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/28250


This dissertation examines the influence of neo-liberal discourses and strategies of governance on a revaluation of the national language, in the form of formalized requirements and testing of language proficiency, within immigration, integration, naturalization, and citizenship policy in Canada and the United Kingdom. Employing an interdiscursive language policy analysis (da Silva & Heller, 2009), the dissertation combines textual analysis of policy documents, informed by the principles of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), with an ethnographic understanding of the policy process gathered through interviews with policy actors. It applies the key CDA analytical categories of emergence, selection, operationalization, and materialization of discourses within domains of social action, and recontextualization of discourses across domains (Fairclough, 2009; Wodak & Fairclough, 2010) to a comparative case study of the policy processes surrounding language, immigration, and citizenship in Canada and the UK. The analysis of the cases reveals how neo-liberal discourses of the knowledge-based economy and communitarian discourses of cohesion and active citizenship have been recontextualized within the domains of immigration and citizenship policy, ultimately constituting a similar hegemonic discourse on the importance of language skills in a common, national language for immigrant integration. Further, the operationalization and materialization of this discourse is interpreted, drawing on the field of governmentality studies, as instantiating an advanced liberal political rationality (Rose, 1996, 1999), with formal language requirements and tests serving as political technologies for the subjectivation of prospective citizens. It is also revealed, however, that contestation over, and contradictions within this neo-liberal strategy of governance have shaped the particular policies regarding language, immigration, and citizenship in each case. The dissertation contributes to the literature on language testing practices for immigration and citizenship by identifying the motivation for such practices in the political economy of contemporary globalization and neo-liberal state strategies for the governance of immigration, integration, and citizenship. It also contributes to the field of Language Policy and Planning (LPP) by suggesting a theoretical and methodological framework for the study of state language policies in a neo-liberal, post-national era.