Project

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A web of care: Linguistic resources and the management of labor in the Swiss healthcare industry

English title A web of care: Linguistic resources and the management of labor in the Swiss healthcare industry
Applicant Duchêne Alexandre
Number 159852
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Mehrsprachigkeit Université de Fribourg - HEP Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Other languages and literature
Start/End 01.10.2015 - 30.09.2019
Approved amount 314'680.00
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Keywords (7)

migration; healthcare; labor; linguistic resources; multilingualism; globalization; social inequalities

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Projekt untersucht die transnationale Mobilität von Patienten und medizinischem Personal in der Schweizer Gesundheitsindustrie und den damit einhergehenden Wert von Sprache. Anhand von ethnographischer Forschung in zwei Universitätsspitälern wird untersucht, wie und unter welchen Bedingungen Sprachkenntnisse des medizinischen Personals instrumentalisiert werden um den Anforderungen einer globalisierten Medizin gerecht zu werden.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts 

Das Projekt orientiert sich an drei Analyseachsen, die transversal im Hinblick auf Sprachbedarf, Rekrutierung, sowie den individuellen Migrationsbiografien des medizinischen Personals untersucht werden. Diese ermöglichen es uns, die institutionellen Prozesse der Organisation von mehrsprachiger Arbeit in einen Zusammenhang mit Arbeitsabläufen zu setzen. Diese Ziele untersuchen wir anhand einer Ethnografie in den Bereichen Internationale Patientenbetreuung, Diversitätsmamagement im Spital, und Personalwesen:

  • Unter welchen Bedingungen hat Sprache in der Schweizer Gesundheitsindustrie Relevanz?
  • Wie wird dem Bedarf an mehrsprachigem Personal Rechnung getragen, woher kommt dieses, wie wird der Bedarf reguliert?
  • Was sind die Konsequenzen der Dynamik zwischen Bedarf und Rekrutierung, wer erhält mit welchen Sprachen und kulturellen Hintergründen Zugang zum Schweizer Arbeitsmarkt?

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Zur Beantwortung dieser Fragen orientieren wir uns an drei Forschungsfeldern, Mobilität und Gesundheit, Sprache im Gesundheitswesen, sowie Mehrsprachigkeit und die ungleiche Verteilung von Ressourcen. Innerhalb einer kritischen Soziolinguistik ist es unser Ziel, zu einer Debatte über den Wert von Sprache im Dienstleistungssektor beizutragen und die Konsequenzen eines globalen web of care zu verdeutlichen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.07.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Dismantling the colonial structure of knowledge production. Language, Culture and Society
LorenteBeatriz (2019), Dismantling the colonial structure of knowledge production. Language, Culture and Society, in Language, Culture and Societey, 1(1), 152-156.
Unequal Language Work(ers) in the Business of Words
DuchêneAlexandre (2019), Unequal Language Work(ers) in the Business of Words, in Thurlow Crispin (ed.), Routledge, New York, 23-35.
Policing for commodification: turning communicative resources into commodities
Muth Sebastian, Del Percio Alfonso (2018), Policing for commodification: turning communicative resources into commodities, in Language Policy, 17(2), 129-135.
“The ideal Russian speaker is no Russian”: language commodification and its limits in medical tourism to Switzerland
Muth Sebastian (2018), “The ideal Russian speaker is no Russian”: language commodification and its limits in medical tourism to Switzerland, in Language Policy, 17(2), 217-237.
Thematic Issue: Policing for commodification: turning communicative resources into commodities (Special Issue)
MuthSebastian, Del PercioAlfonso (2018), Thematic Issue: Policing for commodification: turning communicative resources into commodities (Special Issue), in Language Policy, 17(2), 129-273.
Language-in-education policies and mobile citizens.
Lorentebeatriz (2017), Language-in-education policies and mobile citizens., Routledge, New York, 486-501.
RUSSIAN LANGUAGE ABROAD: VIEWING LANGUAGE THROUGH THE LENS OF COMMODIFICATIONРУССКИЙ ЯЗЫК ЗА РУБЕЖОМ: ВЗГЛЯД НА ЯЗЫК СКВОЗЬ ПРИЗМУ КОММОДИФИКАЦИИ
Muth S. (2017), RUSSIAN LANGUAGE ABROAD: VIEWING LANGUAGE THROUGH THE LENS OF COMMODIFICATIONРУССКИЙ ЯЗЫК ЗА РУБЕЖОМ: ВЗГЛЯД НА ЯЗЫК СКВОЗЬ ПРИЗМУ КОММОДИФИКАЦИИ, in Russian Journal of Linguistics, 21(3), 463-492.
Sciences sociales et sociolinguistique : disciplines, alternatives, conversations et critiques
Duchêne Alexandre (2017), Sciences sociales et sociolinguistique : disciplines, alternatives, conversations et critiques, in Langage et société, 160-161(2), 43-43.
The Commodification of Russian (Special Issue)
MuthSebastian (2017), The Commodification of Russian (Special Issue), in Russian Journal of Linguistics, 21(463), 675.
Language and political economy
Del PercioAlfonso, FlubacherMi Cha, DuchêneAlexandre (2016), Language and political economy, in Garcia Ofeia (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 55-75.
Treating language as an economic resource: Discourses, data, debates
HellerMonica, DuchêneAlexandre (2016), Treating language as an economic resource: Discourses, data, debates, in Coupland Niklas (ed.), Cambridge university Press, Cambridge, 139-156.
Figures of Interpretation
Meier Stefanie, Lorente Beatriz, Muth Stefanie, Duchêne Alexandre, Figures of Interpretation, Multilingual Matters, Bristol.
Future visions of the self: Language teaching and learning under neoliberal conditions (Special Issue)
ZimmermannMartina, MuthSebastian, Future visions of the self: Language teaching and learning under neoliberal conditions (Special Issue), in Multilingua.
Language education and the global care work economy
MeierStefanie, Language education and the global care work economy, Universität Basel, Basel.
Language work, medical tourism and the enterprising self
MuthSebastian, SuryanarayanN., Language work, medical tourism and the enterprising self, in Multilingua.
Multilingualism: An Insufficient Answer to Sociolinguistic Inequalities
DuchêneAlexandre, Multilingualism: An Insufficient Answer to Sociolinguistic Inequalities, in Intenational Journal of the Sociology of Language, 263.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
English Department, University of Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Toronto, CREFO Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Lucerne, Department of Health Science and Policy Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Guest Lecture Talk given at a conference Capitalizing on diversity: multilingualism and the organization of interpreting work in healthcare 01.05.2019 New York University, School of Professional Studies, United States of America Muth Sebastian;
International Conference Dynamics of (im)mobilities and discursive practices in the 21st century Talk given at a conference Plenary: The challenge of (Im)mobility in Sociolinguistics Research 08.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Duchêne Alexandre;
Second International Conference on Sociolinguistics Individual talk Language and affect in the global care work economy – a decolonial, anti-capitalist, feminist perspective 06.09.2018 University of Budapest, Hungary Meier Stefanie;
Sociolinguistics Symposium 22 Talk given at a conference Capitalizing on ‘diversity’: healthcare interpreting at a Swiss hospital 27.06.2018 Auckland, New Zealand Muth Sebastian;
Sociolinguistics Symposium 22 Talk given at a conference Brokering healthcare interpreters in Switzerland 27.06.2018 Auckland, New Zealand Lorente Beatriz;
Keynotes Series RPE Lecture series, University of Luxembourg. Individual talk A. Return on (Language) Investment? Multilingualism and the Unequal Distribution of (Educational) Resources 07.12.2017 Luxembourg, Luxembourg Duchêne Alexandre;
American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Translating bodies: the legitimization of interpreters in Swiss healthcare 29.11.2017 Washington D.C, United States of America Duchêne Alexandre; Lorente Beatriz;
AILA World Congress Talk given at a conference Governmentality and corporate social responsibility: Learning German at a Swiss health resort 23.07.2017 Rio, Brazil Muth Sebastian; Lorente Beatriz;
International Pragmatics Association Talk given at a conference Capitalizing on diversity: healthcare interpreting at a Swiss hospital 16.07.2017 Belfast, Ireland Muth Sebastian; Lorente Beatriz;
International Symposium on Bilingualism Talk given at a conference Researching linguistic markets in multilingual research teams. 11.07.2017 Limerick, Ireland Duchêne Alexandre; Lorente Beatriz; Meier Stefanie; Muth Sebastian;
International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences InterCongress Talk given at a conference Capitalizing on diversity: healthcare interpreting at a Swiss hospital 02.05.2017 Ottawa, Canada Muth Sebastian; Lorente Beatriz; Duchêne Alexandre;
Guest Lecture ARC speaker series Individual talk The Multilingual Division of Contemporary Labor. Selection, Inequalities and Exploitation 06.04.2017 New York City - CUNY Graduate Center, United States of America Duchêne Alexandre;
Guest Lecture GC CUNY Individual talk Speculation: language in late capitalism 07.03.2017 New York City, United States of America Duchêne Alexandre;
Guest Lecture Temple University Individual talk Language investment and political economy 02.03.2017 Philadelphia, Temple University, United States of America Duchêne Alexandre;
Sociolinguistics Symposium 21 Talk given at a conference Language attitude and institutional power – Philippine healthcare workers’ anxiety and pride towards German for work migration 15.06.2016 Murcia, Spain Meier Stefanie;
Sociolinguistics Symposium 21 Individual talk ‘A web of care: linguistic resources and themanagement of labor in the swiss healthcare industry’ 15.06.2016 Murcia, Spain Lorente Beatriz; Muth Sebastian;
Imagine Otherwise - International Exploratory Workshop, Gender Studies Schweiz Talk given at a conference Decolonizing gender relations - language education and the creation of a ‚quasi-feminine-care-persona 05.06.2016 Basel, Switzerland Meier Stefanie;
Guest Lecture EHESS Individual talk Capitalisme et production de l’évidence 20.05.2016 Paris, France Duchêne Alexandre;
Second Whole Action Conference, COST New Speakers Network Talk given at a conference Governmentality and "corporate social responsibility": language courses at a Swiss healthcare resort 12.05.2016 Hamburg, Germany Muth Sebastian; Lorente Beatriz;
COST New Speakers Network meeting Talk given at a conference The making of healthy new speakers 01.05.2016 Paris, France Lorente Beatriz; Muth Sebastian;
AAAL 2016 Talk given at a conference Exploring the limits of language commodification: changing regimes of value in space and time (panel organization) 09.04.2016 Orlando, United States of America Muth Sebastian;
Colloque vals Asla 2016 Talk given at a conference Plenary: La division sociolinguistique du travail : différences, inégalités, subalternité 20.01.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Duchêne Alexandre;
VALS ASLA Conference 2016 Talk given at a conference Multilingualism as distinction? Branding Switzerland in global healthcare 20.01.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Muth Sebastian;
MAGic conference, EASA Medical Anthropology Network and the RAI Medical Anthropology Committee Talk given at a conference A web of care: linguistic resources and the management of labor in the Swiss healthcare industry 09.11.2015 Sussex, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Lorente Beatriz; Muth Sebastian;


Abstract

Using the healthcare industry as a site of study, this project aims to uncover the conditions in which particular configurations of language proficiency and speakers become desired commodities, as the demands of globally mobile patients are managed, the needs of migrant patients are accommodated and the linguistic, symbolic and cultural capitals of healthcare workers are regulated and exchanged. This is based on the assumption that the transnational movements of patients and workers fundamentally change the role and value of languages in the healthcare marketplace, raising new questions about the management of language under current political economic conditions.This project focuses on the “web of care”, that entails both the transnational movement of patients and healthcare workers and the institutions that facilitate and regulate these flows. More specifically, in this project we focus on the conditions in which language skills are used to characterize the desirable personal qualities, job scopes and specific tasks of various healthcare workers, making linguistic resources serve as gatekeepers of labor as well as instrumental tools necessary in the care for diverse patients. We will locate and trace the trajectories of healthcare workers who rely and capitalize on their linguistic resources, either as working tools catering to migrant patients, or for the growing number of medical tourists seeking quality medical care in Switzerland. The project will ask the following questions:-How and under what conditions does language matter in the Swiss healthcare industry? -How is language demand supplied, controlled and regulated?-What are the consequences of the dynamic between language demand and supply for the workers in terms of access, circulation and distinction? With the help of a multi-sited ethnography at two Swiss university hospitals we will focus on different actors and stakeholders in the healthcare industry and examine the ways in which they intersect and engage in the management of linguistic resources. These actors are located in international offices, units responsible for ‘migrant-friendly’ care, human resource departments and affiliated healthcare agencies; they can be labor brokers as well as freelance translators.We position this project in critical sociolinguistics that emphasizes the role of language in the production and reproduction of social inequalities. This project contributes to the understanding of fine-grain processes that define the organization of linguistic resources, regulate the demand and supply of workers, provide access to employment, and determine that value of certain languages and forms of language practice.
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