migration; healthcare; labor; linguistic resources; multilingualism; globalization; social inequalities
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DuchêneAlexandre (2019), Unequal Language Work(ers) in the Business of Words, in Thurlow Crispin (ed.), Routledge, New York, 23-35.
Muth Sebastian, Del Percio Alfonso (2018), Policing for commodification: turning communicative resources into commodities, in Language Policy
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Muth Sebastian (2018), “The ideal Russian speaker is no Russian”: language commodification and its limits in medical tourism to Switzerland, in Language Policy
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, 21(3), 463-492.
Duchêne Alexandre (2017), Sciences sociales et sociolinguistique : disciplines, alternatives, conversations et critiques, in Langage et société
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MuthSebastian (2017), The Commodification of Russian (Special Issue), in Russian Journal of Linguistics
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Del PercioAlfonso, FlubacherMi Cha, DuchêneAlexandre (2016), Language and political economy, in Garcia Ofeia (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 55-75.
HellerMonica, DuchêneAlexandre (2016), Treating language as an economic resource: Discourses, data, debates, in Coupland Niklas (ed.), Cambridge university Press, Cambridge, 139-156.
Meier Stefanie, Lorente Beatriz, Muth Stefanie, Duchêne Alexandre, Figures of Interpretation
, Multilingual Matters, Bristol.
ZimmermannMartina, MuthSebastian, Future visions of the self: Language teaching and learning under neoliberal conditions (Special Issue), in Multilingua
MeierStefanie, Language education and the global care work economy
, Universität Basel, Basel.
MuthSebastian, SuryanarayanN., Language work, medical tourism and the enterprising self, in Multilingua
DuchêneAlexandre, Multilingualism: An Insufficient Answer to Sociolinguistic Inequalities, in Intenational Journal of the Sociology of Language
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.