Language policy and governmentality in businesses in Wales: a continuum of empowerment and regulation

Elisabeth Barakos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, I examine how language policy acts as a means of both empowering the Welsh language and theminority language worker and as a means of exerting power over them. For this purpose, the study focuses on a particular site: private sector businesses in Wales. Therein, I trace two major discursive processes: first, the Welsh Government’s national language policy documents that promote corporate bilingualism and bilingual employees as value-added resources; second, the practice and discourse of company managers who sustain or appropriate such promotional discourses for creating and promoting their own organisational values. By drawing on concepts from governmentality, critical language policy and discourse studies, I show that promoting bilingualism in business is characterised by local and global governmentalities. These not only bring about critical shifts in valuing language as symbolic entities attached to ethnonational concerns or as promotional objects that bring material gain. Language governmentalities also appear to shape new forms of ‘languaging’ the minority language worker as selfgoverning,
and yet, governed subjects who are ultimately made responsible for ‘owning’ Welsh.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-391
Number of pages31
Issue number4
Early online date29 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

-This article forms part of a special issue (edited by Kati Dlaske and Mireille McLaughlin) on "Languaging the worker: Globalized governmentalities in/of language in peripheral spaces".

Walter de Gruyter is acknowledged. DOI:


  • language policy
  • governmentality
  • bilingualism
  • Wales
  • empowerment
  • Welsh


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