Language Policies in Finland and Sweden: Interdisciplinary and Multi-sited Comparisons

Edited by: Mia Halonen, Pasi Ihalainen, Taina Saarinen

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Multilingual Matters
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In this volume, authors from four disciplines join forces to develop an analysis of political discourse on a comparative and multidisciplinary basis. Language policy is often based on the political use of history, where the remembrance of past experiences by communities, individuals and historical bodies play a fundamental role. These authors see politics and policies as multi-sited by nature, taking place, being constructed, contested and reproduced simultaneously and in different times and places. Theoretically the book draws on the concept of language policy, operationalising it through the rhizomatic nature of politics and policies. Although confined empirically to considerations of situations in Finland and Sweden, the volume extends far beyond these locations in its theoretical contributions. The polities of Finland and Sweden are the lens through which a new and much needed understanding of language policy research, and policy research in general, is posited.

This excellent book provides a state of the art account of language issues in Sweden and Finland, presented in an interesting theoretical frame. The authors' view that language policy is multi-sited and in constant dialogic development results in a cohesive volume which reveals both the origins and the current complexities of Northern language policy and practice.

Thanks to multiple perspectives, the present volume offers valuable insight into how problems caused by different languages have been felt at the grass roots level – among immigrants, in classrooms, during job interviews and in other every-day situations – and how politicians and legislators have sought to solve them. This coherent and well-edited book is definitively worthwhile reading for all who are interested in Scandinavian societal policies or language issues in general.

This methodologically innovative volume carefully exposes the construal nature of 'language' vis-à-vis 'national language', 'minority language' or 'home language'. It broadens our understanding of the interconnectedness of local practices and larger policies, and shows how macro level language policies are remodelled, experienced, and acted upon in individual life experiences.

Instead of merely calling for more language policy research of an ethnographic nature, this volume takes a step in this rather recent direction. With these well elaborated examples of ethnographically-oriented language policy research and the focus on multi-sitedness that respects the interconnectedness of policy discourses, the book comes some way closer to a multidimensional and holistic view of language policy.

Language Policy (2017) 16

The book promotes interdisciplinary and constructivist approach in research. Some of the comments by the authors on links between academic subjects are startlingly true: history and linguistics are close for the simple fact that research in history is mainly based on written documents. For someone who is a linguist, the book contains a great deal of complex theorising, and argumentation for a new approach to language policy research, probably designed to break intra- or interdisciplinary barriers.

NJMR, 6(3), 2016, 183-191

Mia Halonen is a senior researcher at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research interests include language ideologies and policy, sociophonetics, performances, micro analytic and mixed methods, social media and popular culture.

Pasi Ihalainen is a professor of Comparative European History at the Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His research interests include comparative history, national identity, parliamentary discourse, and multi-sited constitutional debates.

Taina Saarinen is a senior researcher at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research interests include language policy, methodology, and higher education internationalisation.

Part 1. Theoretical and Methodological Introduction

1. Mia Halonen, Pasi Ihalainen and Taina Saarinen: Diverse Discourses in Time and Space: Historical, Discourse Analytical and Ethnographic Approaches to Multi-sited Language Policy Discourse

Part 2. Language Policies in Parliaments, Legislation and the Media

2. Pasi Ihalainen and Taina Saarinen: Constructing 'Language' in Language Policy Discourse: Finnish and Swedish Legislative Processes in the 2000s

3. Sally Boyd and Åsa Palviainen: Building Walls or Bridges? A Language Ideological Debate about Bilingual Schools in Finland

4. Mika Lähteenmäki and Sari Pöyhönen: Language Rights of the Russian-Speaking Minority in Finland: Multi-Sited Historical Arguments and Language Ideologies

5. Jarmo Lainio: The Art of Societal Ambivalence: A Retrospective View on Swedish Language Policies for Finnish in Sweden

Part 3. Individuals as Constructors and Reflectors of Language Policies

6. Sofia Kotilainen: National Language Policy at the Local Level: The Realisation of Language Legislation in Late Nineteenth-Century Finland

7. Mats Wickström: Making the Case For the Mother Tongue: Ethnic Activism and the Emergence of a New Policy Discourse on Non-Swedish Mother Tongue Teaching in Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s

8. Hanna Snellman: Everyday Language Policies: Embodiment of Language-Related Experiences of Finnish Women in Sweden

9. Mia Halonen, Tarja Nikula, Taina Saarinen and Mirja Tarnanen: 'Listen, There'll be a Pause after each Question': A Swedish Lesson as a Nexus for Multi-Sited Language Education Policies

Part 4. Epilogue

10. Muiris Ó Laoire: Multi-Sited Language Policies: Where have we come from and where to from here in Language Policy?

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