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Governmentality and Language

Authors
  • Urla, Jacqueline
Type
Published Article
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Oct 21, 2019
Volume
48
Pages
261–278
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-anthro-102317-050258
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

This article reviews how the analytics of governmentality have been taken up by scholars in linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, and applied linguistics. It explores the distinctive logics of “linguistic governmentality” understood as techniques and forms of expertise that seek to govern, guide, and shape (rather than force) linguistic conduct and subjectivity at the level of the population or the individual. Governmentality brings new perspectives to the study of language ideologies and practices informing modernist and neoliberal language planning and policies, the technologies of knowledge they generate, and the contestations that surround them. Recent work in this vein is deepening our understanding of “language”—understood as an array of verbal and nonverbal communicative practices—as a medium through which neoliberal governmentality is exercised. The article concludes by considering how a critical sociolinguistics of governmentality can address some shortcomings in the study of governmentality and advance the study of language, power, and inequality.

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