1st Edition

Global English and Political Economy

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after April 19, 2021
ISBN 9781138811126
April 19, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
312 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

In this book, John O’Regan examines the role of political economy in the worldwide spread of English and traces the origins and development of the dominance of English to the endless accumulation of capital in a capitalist world-system.

O’Regan combines Marxist perspectives of capital accumulation with world-systems analysis, international political economy, and studies of imperialism and empire to present an historical account of the ‘free riding’ of English upon the global capital networks of the capitalist world-system. Relevant disciplinary perspectives on global English are examined in this light, including superdiversity, translanguaging, translingual practice, trans-spatiality, language commodification, World Englishes and English as a Lingua Franca. Global English and Political Economy presents an original historical and interdisciplinary interpretation of the global ascent of English, while also raising important theoretical and practical questions for perspectives which suggest that the time of the traditional models of English is past.

Providing an introduction to key theoretical perspectives in political economy, this book is essential reading for advanced students and researchers in Applied Linguistics, World Englishes and related fields of study.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

The political economy of English in a capitalist world-system


Chapter 2

English and the political economy of informal empire, 1688-1850


Chapter 3

The political economy of global English, 1850-1914


Chapter 4

The political economy of global English, 1918-1979


Chapter 5

Capital-centric English and the modern world-system, 1979-2008


Chapter 6

The decline of the US world-hegemony


Chapter 7

Superdiverse translingualism, commodification and trans-spatial resistances


Chapter 8

The demise of capitalism and the end of the hegemony of English




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John P. O’Regan is Professor of Critical Applied Linguistics at UCL Institute of Education, University College London, UK. He is co-editor of Education and the Discourse of Global Neoliberalism (Routledge, 2020).


With this book, John O’Regan has mastered the art of engaging readers with his elegant and sharp scholarship, however complex the subject matter may be. He treats seriously and passionately the long overdue need to examine and document the political economic dimension of language, specifically in relation to the historical global dominance of English. In so doing, O’Regan challenges established and promoted bodies of work by questioning normative and in-fashion ideologies and thinking, seeing beyond oft-celebrated sentiments and positions in order to deliver a work that is not only thought-provoking, but also of great merit and intellectual weight.

Phan Le Ha, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei

A careful, comprehensive and critical study of the intertwined tentacles of English and capitalism. John O’Regan presents here the big and the long picture of the political economy of English, showing how the global dominance of English and the development of the capitalist world-system cannot be usefully considered in isolation. A study of real importance.

Alastair Pennycook, University of Technology Sydney, Australia