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Investigating dilemmas in language policy implementation.

Conference contribution
Authors Susanna Karlsson
Tom Karlsson
Published in IRSPM Annual Conference. Budapest: 19-21 April
Publisher IRSPM
Place of publication Budapest
Publication year 2017
Published at School of Public Administration
Language en
Links https://irspm2017.exordo.com/files/...
Subject categories Public Administration Studies, Swedish language

Abstract

This paper concerns the implementation of language policies within institutions for Swedish higher education. More specifically, the paper focuses on how the implementation process becomes manifested through language planning policy documents governing how and when which languages could or should be used. This paper explores how governmental policies have been transformed and implemented within institutions for higher education within Sweden. The purpose is to study language planning documents within institutions for higher education in order to disclose how dilemmas emerge through policy implementation. Higher education in Sweden can be divided into three contexts: research, education, and administration. Following Pierre and Painter (2010) these contexts can be conceptualized as welfare services and functions of legality. Of specific interest is the fact that although not all institutions for higher education are governmental agencies, all have to abide by the laws directing their legality functions. In this paper, two governmental policies are studied. First, all institutions for higher education should follow the Language Act (SFS 2009:600), dictating that Swedish is the principal language in Sweden. Also, the Act states that the language of all organizations performing public sector functions should be Swedish. Second, institutions for higher education should strive towards increased internationalization (Prop. 2004/05:162). In effect, this causes a dilemma between Swedish as the principal language and the focus on international actors. The empirical data consists of twenty-two language planning policy documents from Swedish institutions for higher education collected during 2015 and 2016. These are all available such documents to date. The research process was undertaken in two phases. During the first phase, all documents were subject to content analysis through close reading. It was found that the texts strongly coincided with research, education, and administration. The second phase involved a qualitative analysis concerning the preferences for choice of language within these three contexts. This paper draws on dilemma theory (cf. Hampden-Turner 1970, 2009) in order to analyze how institutions for higher education in Sweden face contradictory policy goals. Dilemmas are understood to be two desirable alternatives, that are individually perceived as logical. Together they present organizations with difficulties of achieving both. In this paper, dilemma is studied through the policies underpinning the construction of language planning documents. Following the analysis of the paper, three important topics are found to govern how and when which languages have primacy. First, the context of research contains rationalizations of Swedish as well as English as preferred language(s). Other language(s) are permitted, but are not exclusively identified. Second, the context of education contains rationalizations about the need for both Swedish and other languages depending on the situation. Third, the context of administration reveals how institutions for higher education are firmly grounded as performing governmental organizations. The main conclusion concerns the differing signals inherent in the underpinning governmental policies. The policy implementation of internationalization as well as the Language Act come to chafe against one another, causing dilemmas. It is discussed how such dilemmas result in problems for both internationalization and adherence to the Language Act.

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