1st Edition

The Commodification of Language
Conceptual Concerns and Empirical Manifestations

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after April 15, 2021
ISBN 9780367464073
April 15, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
272 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

This volume seeks to add to our understanding of how language is constructed in late capitalist societies. Exploring the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the "commodification of language" and its relationship to the notion of linguistic capital, the authors examine recent research that offers implications for language policy and planning.

Bringing together an international group of scholars, this collection includes chapters that address whether or not language can rightly be referred to as a commodity and, if so, under what circumstances. Understanding the different theoretical foundations of some phenomenon of the "capitalization" of language -- whether as commodity or capital -- has practical implications for policy writ large. The implications of the "capitalization" of language in more empirical terms are explored, both in terms of how it affects language as well as language policy at more micro levels. This includes more specific policy arenas such as language in education policy or family language policies as well as the implications for individual identity construction and linguistic communities.

With a conclusion written by leading scholar David Block, this is key reading for researchers and advanced students of critical sociolinguistics, language and economy, language and politics, language policy and linguistic anthropology within linguistics, applied linguistics and language teacher education.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors



John E. Petrovic & Bedrettin Yazan

Chapter 1: Confronting Language Fetishism in Practice

William Simpson & John P. O’Regan

Chapter 2: Language as Instrument, Resource, and maybe Capital, but not Commodity: A Marxian Clarification

John E. Petrovic & Bedrettin Yazan

Chapter 3: Language, Contextand Economic Value: An Interactionist Approach

Kenneth McGill

Chapter 4: Misconceptions of Economics and Political Economy in Sociolinguistic Research

François Grin

Chapter 5: Between Voice and Voices: Negotiating value among interpreters in Toronto

Julie H. Tay & Sebastian Muth

Chapter 6: "A breathtaking English": Negotiating what counts as distinctive linguistic capital at an elite international school near Barcelona

Andrea SunyolGarcia-Moreno

Chapter 7: Language as an economic and political resource in the making of a Himalayan tourism village

Bal Krishna Sharma

Chapter 8: When linguistic capital isn’t enough: personality development and English speakerhood as capital in India

Katy Highet & Alfonso Del Percio

Chapter 9: 1Ideologies of multilingualism as an investment and as a marketable commodity among Greek expat families in Luxembourg

Nikos Gogonas

Chapter 10: Names as linguistic capital

Peter K. W. Tan

Chapter 11: Ideologies of French and commodification: What does meaning-making imply for multilinguals in transnational times?

Sylvie Roy & Julie Byrd Clarke

Coda: Issues arising around conceptual and empirical work on the commodification of language

David Block


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John E. Petrovic is Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies at The University of Alabama. He teaches in the areas of philosophy of education and educational policy, with focus on language policy in education. His recent books include A Post-Liberal Approach to Language Policy in Education (Multilingual Matters) and Unschooling Critical Pedagogy, Unfixing Schools (Peter Lang).

Bedrettin Yazan is an associate professor at the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at University of Texas, San Antonio. His research focuses on language teacher learning and identity, collaboration between ESL and content teachers, language policy and planning, and World Englishes. Methodologically he is interested in critical autoethnography, narrative inquiry and qualitative case study.


Nearly two decades after the concept of language commodification first appeared, this fascinating volume takes its theorization and analytical import a step further. Readers will enjoy the intersecting lines of critique and the rich variety of situated studies that discuss the boundaries of the notion for understanding language in late capitalism.

Eva Codó, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain