Accepted paper:

Transnational mobility, language policy and labor migration


Marietta Baba (Michigan State University)
Carla Dahl-Jørgensen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on processes of inclusion and exclusion of labor migrants and the role of language and language policies regulating labor control. It will be a comparative analysis of empirical findings from an EU region with similar literature of Eastern and Southeast Asia.

Paper long abstract:

Research has shown that language skills of labor migrants play an important role in mediating migration pathways, as well as influencing their success in the labor market in the receiving country. Likewise, proficiency in the majority language is crucial and has important effects on earnings, job placement and promotion. However, very few studies have looked into the relationship between labor migration control and language policies. The background of our presentation is an empirical study undertaken in the EU region when EU- expanded and opened its borders to transnational labor migrants from Central and Eastern European countries in 2004. Our study shows how language policies were implemented in various northern European countries around the same time as the expansion, and several countries used language policy as a means of shifting away from multicultural policies and towards re-bordering. In this presentation a comparative analysis will be undertaken of our empirical findings from the EU region with similar studies presented in literature of Eastern and Southeast Asia, especially China and surrounding countries. We will be doing so by focusing on aspects related to: "linguistic nationalism" and the interaction of institutional actors in supporting negotiations regarding linguistic skill that facilitate migrants' capacity to traverse boundaries and integrate into foreign job markets.

panel MMM08
Migration and the labour market: a comparative study between the EU and Asia (IUAES Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)