The Management of Multilingualism in Institutional Contexts

This research looks at the way multilingualism is organized by local and international non-governmental organizations. Ideologies and the link with local and global projections of organizations dedicated to helping newly arrived migrants shed light on social processes of inclusion/exclusion of newcomers.

The Telecommunication Sector:
The research being undertaken on the Telecommunications Sector in the new economy centers on language and the way information and communication technologies (ICT) are marketed and used by migrants. The role of the state as well as private (and privatised) communication enterprises in the organization and control of global communication networks, on the one hand, and their management of linguistic diversity and migration flows, on the other hand, are generating new forms of social difference, social control and exclusion.

Cultural Mediators:
This study looks at the role of cultural mediators in the health context. The choice of language and the translation of cultural meanings and health information become the source of tensions that develop around the control of specialized knowledge. Multilingualism and the choice of language by the various social actors in the health clinic reflect relations of power within and outside this institution.

Health Clinic:
We are currently centering on the modes and modalities of multilingualism at a health clinic and the consequences this has for health care users who are categorized by the different multilingual practices that are implemented by the public health institution. Institutional ideologies do not correspond to the everyday reality that takes place at the clinic.

Tourism and the New Economy

Site I: Language, Structuration and Boundaries in a Tourist Community on the Costa Brava
This ethnographic study of a tourist community on the Costa Brava explores the role of language in social processes of structuration and boundary construction among various nationalities and ethnic groups. It shows how the diversity in this small Catalan community challenges traditional ways of working in the community and the languages that are getting used. The boundaries that are getting constructed with the local Catalan community is separate from the dynamics of social structuration among the community of ‘foreigners’ who are in strong competition over the control of material and symbolic resources, and in a struggle over the (re)definition of spaces of linguistic, economic and political practice.

Site II: Catalunya Nord/Languedoc-Rousillon
The revival of the local economy is being constructed on the basis of tourism and the revival of local symbols of Catalan identity and language. The various sectors of society taking up this construction include local producers of food and artistic products (honey, beer, cola, cheese, tee-shirts, paintings), cooperative movements involved in ecological and bio products, real-estate and the revival of oral historical and heritage narratives. This commodified construction of Catalan symbols is in tension with more nationalist revivals of the Catalan language funded by the Catalan regional government in Spain.

Work and the Role of Language in Recruiting Processes

This ethnographic study looks at the role of language and in particular the role of English for gaining employment in the current labor market in Catalonia and in Spain after 2016. The focus of this research is on the way recruitment offices and human resources departments of national and multinational companies value language as a skill needed to gain employment. This investigation is also concerned with how language skills are evaluated and the weight language is given with respect to other work skills required. The project also seeks to understand differences in recruitment procedures by both national and multinational companies in connection to the role of language. Job candidates, both those who have worked with a recruitment service as well as those who have not, will be interviewed in order to incorporate their perspective on how employment is achieved and how language was taken into account or not. 

This multi-sited ethnography seeks to provide a comprehensive account of the role of language in the current labor market from the perspective of employers and human resources departments, mediating recruitment services, and the job candidates. The selection of the sites will also take into account high level management jobs, middle management employment and non-skilled work. At least four sites will be selected fulfilling each one of the social actor profiles participating in the hiring process. More specifically, they will include a human resources department from a national and from a multinational business, recruiting companies for both local low level and mid-management jobs and, also, for high-level management jobs at multinationals. In addition, a large sample of current or past job candidates will be interviewed in order to understand the search for work from an individual perspective.