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NALL Working Paper #22-2001
 

Minority Languages Learned Informally -
The Social Construction of Language Skills Through the Discourse of Ontario Employers
  

Michelle Goldberg
David Corson
  

Paper Presented at the 4th Annual NALL Conference
October 2000

 

Abstract

Many immigrants, refugees, and aboriginal Canadians learn their own languages in the normal, informal way.  These minority languages learned informally are not valued as a skill that yields returns in the labour market same way the official languages or formally learned languages do.  The paper confirms that what counts as a skill in a society, in a given point in time, is the product of complex phenomenological, social, economic, ideological and political processes.  Furthermore, the paper illustrates how discourse is key to this process of social and cultural reproduction.  The discourse of Ontario employers socially constructs the definition of what counts as a skill in Ontario workplaces, and thus what warrants value in the labour market.  The paper concludes that we need to be conscious of what definition of “skill” is endorsed in discourse and whose interests are being served by it.

 

Minority Languages Learned Informally -
The Social Construction of Language Skills Through the Discourse of Ontario Employers

According to the 1996 Statistics Canada Census, 12.75% of Ontario’s population (1,323,850) reported a non-official language as the language spoken most often at home.  Many of these minority language speakers are immigrants, refugees or aboriginal Canadians who have learned their own languages in the normal, informal way.  This corpus of language fluency is a huge but largely untapped resource in a highly multilingual country like Canada.  As research conducted by the Conference Board of Canada (Taylor, 1995) reveals, “competing to win in the global economy will require an ability to attract, retain, motivate and develop high-potential employees from a variety of ethnocultural backgrounds” (Taylor, 1995:iv).  The value these individuals bring is their "language skills and knowledge of foreign cultures and business practices, as well as natural trade links with overseas markets” (Taylor, 1995, p. 1).

     The cultural knowledge and language skills that minority language groups posses are precisely the skills that Ontario employers need to utilize to keep pace with global competition and to address the demands of a changing local market.  However, preliminary research has shown that after learning one of Canada’s official languages, immigrants, refugees, and aboriginal Canadians receive little or no formal recognition for their bilingual proficiency, even when that proficiency is highly relevant to the occupations they perform (Goldberg & Corson, 1999; 2000).1  These studies also revealed that organizations evaluate language proficiency differently if it was acquired formally or informally.  A bias towards formally learned languages was evident.  The perception was that if a language was learned formally, the “standard” grammar and structures are more likely to be mastered and the individual is a better communicator.

    This paper attempts to seek an explanation as to why these minority languages learned informally are not valued as a skill that yields returns in the labour market the same way official languages or formally learned languages do.  Using Foucault’s discourse framework, acknowledging that reality is discursively constructed, and Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital, the discourses of Ontario employers were examined to reveal their evaluation of minority language skills learned informally.  In sum, the current paper will use critical discourse analysis to deconstruct the discourse of Ontario employers to reveal what definition of “skill” is endorsed and whose interests are being served by it.

     This study builds directly on previous research (Goldberg & Corson, 1999; 2000) by exploring more clearly the tensions between formal and informal learning and the power issues at stake.  As this is a relatively new area of research, a first study was initiated to determine if there is value in pursuing further research in the area (Goldberg & Corson, 1999).  In that basic research study, 79 private/public organizations, academic institutions and school boards were surveyed using mail out questionnaires to determine if organizations view minority languages that were learned informally as a resource.  The results of that study revealed that most organizations do believe their organization benefits from employing staff who are fluent in languages other than English or French.  The paper concluded that certain Ontario organizations do value this form of bilingualism for use in dealing with their linguistically different clients.  The benefits for their organizations are mainly economic, for example to get the market share and to expand into new markets.  So to that extent at least, these non-dominant languages are viewed as resources worth maintaining and putting to use.  However, few organizations indicated that they actively recruit these bilingual employees or that they offer rewards or benefits when fluency in the first language is a useful qualification for doing formal work.

    A secondary study (Goldberg & Corson, 2000), based on more in-depth interviews with Ontario employers, confirmed in more detail the benefits Ontario employers see in employing speakers of minority languages.  It further confirmed that the rationale for valuing these skills was mainly economic.  The results also confirmed that minority languages learned informally are not viewed as resources in the same way as dominant languages or languages learned formally.  The results of these preliminary studies indicate that further research is needed to reveal more details on tensions between formal and informal learning and the power relationships at stake.  A major motive behind the research is the social justice goal of reducing the marginalization of languages other than English or French in Canada (Corson & Lemay, 1996), by extending greater formal recognition to the users of immigrant and aboriginal languages learned as first languages in an informal way.

Theoretical Framework

     Discourse Framework.  The framework in this paper stems mostly from French poststructuralist Michel Foucault, but also from the British critical language theorist Norman Fairclough, and the French anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu.  In this framework, the role of discourse is central in shaping power relationships, in sustaining inequalities, and in producing the differential valuation of social artifacts.  According to Foucault (1974), discourses are "practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak...Discourses are not about objects; they do not identify objects, they constitute them and in the practice of doing so they conceal their own invention" (Foucault, 1974:49).  This statement indicates that the study of power must be located in discursive activity.  Furthermore, reality is discursively constructed as discourse shapes and constrains our thoughts and behaviours.

    Foucault’s statement also indicates that discourse operates at an unconscious level, as is consistent with Gramsci’s notion of hegemony.2   Discourses are the routine actions and unexamined beliefs that are consonant with cultural systems which systematically limit the life chances of some groups (Corson, 1998).  As an example, older forms of sexist/biased language exemplifies how language shaped and constrained women’s career preferences (e.g., fireman renamed fire-fighter, policeman renamed police officer).  The inequitable situation became susceptible to change by changing the language used to talk about careers.3

     In this framework, discourse is socially constructed.  Thus, while discourse constrains individuals’/groups’ behaviours, discourse itself is shaped by individuals and groups who are constrained by their creation.  Discourse is not a social reality apart from individuals and groups.  This approach assumes there is a dialectical relationship between discourse and social reality.  On the one hand, discourse constructs reality, however on the other hand, reality reconstructs discourse.  The benefit of this view is that if we recognize discourse is socially constructed, in that it is created by individuals, it is open to changing by individuals.

    According to Fairclough (1993a), the role of discourse has become more important over time in constituting and reproducing social identities.  This is so, for the way in which power and social control are being exercised is changing.  It is shifting from a more explicit to a more implicit exercise of power.  This change means that "the common-sense routines of language practices become important in sustaining and reproducing power relations" (Fairclough, 1992:3).  As such, it is especially important in the post-modern condition, to study discourse, to examine how discourses are used and what role they play in today’s society.

    It is important to note that language on its own is not the cause of inequities in the labour market.  “Language has little power when it is separated from powerful institutions and people.  The power of language comes from what it is used to do: the discursive practises in which it is sited” (Corson, 1998:114).  Thus, racism/discrimination might be more the cause of inequalities in the labour market, but it operates through the wider discourses that surround us.

    As discourse stems from a particular point of view it implies certain values, beliefs and assumptions (Farrell, 2000).  These discourses and the assumptions carried with them, circulating in society are what limit thoughts, behaviours and actions.  Thus, it is very important to examine the discourses operating and reveal how they play a role in sustaining inequalities.  Language makes action possible as well.  So it has both a constraining and an enabling moment.

    For the purposes of this paper the focus of discourse is narrowed to natural language as it appears in texts (e.g., interview transcripts).  This is done following Farrell (2000) who confined her “attention to the ways in which discourses are represented through language, either through written texts or through transcripts of spoken texts” (7).  This approach is also consistent with Fairclough (1992), who sees text is the realization of certain kinds of social reality.

     Bourdieu.  Bourdieu (1971) helps us understand how discourse is part of the reproduction process.  His notion of “cultural capital” is particularly useful.  Applying this notion to the current paper, the skills and knowledge possessed by the dominant group are labeled by them as the most desirable and valued.  They claim that these skills are the product of the most intelligent, gifted or talented individuals and thus should warrant the most worth.  This labeling of the dominant group’s capital as superior is the way the dominant group can maintain their dominance through discourse.  The skills and knowledge possessed by minority language groups are seen as the product of natural abilities, thus are devalued in Ontario society.  Given the focus on social construction, it is important to realize that conventions are just that, constructions which are socially created and hence changeable.  Thus, perhaps we can change discourse to value minority language skills learned informally as a resource and thus change the inequitable situation that confronts speakers of minority languages.

    Skill as a Social Construct.  Many people view skills as “objective and measurable mental and physical abilities that individuals either do or do not possess” (Dunk, 1996:101).  This view does not recognize the historical and cultural variability of skills definitions.  We need to recognize that what counts as a skill in a society, in a given point in time, is the product of complex phenomenological, social, economic, ideological, discursive, and political processes.  By viewing skills as social constructs, many effects can occur.  First, skills can be devalued in an effort to reduce labour costs and further justify the polarization of labour markets.  Common skills can be normalized, or seen as reflecting “natural” talents or aptitudes and thus devalued so that they do not command higher levels of employment and wages.  As well, highly skilled labour can be viewed as being in greater demand, so that individuals possessing those “skills” could enjoy higher levels of employment and wages.  This paper is situated within this notion of skill as a social construct.  The implication is that we can deconstruct discourse to reveal what definition “skill” is endorsed and reveal whose interests are being served by it.

    A concept tied closely to the social construction of “skill” is that the definition of “skill” is also embedded in a bodily subject.  This statement indicates that its definition is inextricably bound up in social and cultural relations of gender/race/ethnicity.  As such, “the assessment of the worth of an individual’s or group’s labour power is tied up with the overall valuation of that individual or group” (Dunk, 1996:102).  This theme further contributes to the notion that there can be no objective evaluation of the skills of individuals.  To provide an example, a foreign language learned in a formal academic institution is usually learned by a white person, while first languages learned informally are typically learned by members of the cultural group.  If the language learned formally usually by a white person is more valued than the first language learned informally by a minority group member we need to examine whether the assessment of value accorded to skills of minority groups is being confounded by the overall evaluation of the cultural group.

    Summary.  Applying the theoretical framework discussed above to the current paper, the hypothesis is that the current discourse surrounding immigrants’ skills normalizes and devalues them which marginalizes immigrants’ contributions to the labour market.  Thus, the discourse of Ontario employers produce/shape wider social and cultural structures and relations in society.  Specifically, the discourses assign value to the linguistic skills possessed by minority language speakers.  This process is invisible or hidden.  Furthermore, the process is mutually reinforcing and socially constructed.  Thus, while discourse shapes social relations, the relations further shape, support and reinforce the discourse operating.  There is also a dialectical relationship between discourse and social structures.  Thus, discourse shapes and is shaped by the social structures.

Method

     The following section outlines the methodology employed for collecting discourses from Ontario employers and the method used to deconstruct the transcripts to reveal what definition of “skill” is endorsed and whose interests are being served by it.

Sample

    A selective sampling strategy was used.  Ten organizations who participated in the previous study (Goldberg & Corson, 1998) were selected for follow-up in-depth interviews.  Seven agreed to participate. The organizations were selected based on their responses to a mail-out survey for portraying exemplary practises in valuing languages other than English or French.  Due to time constraints, the following paper reports on the analysis of four of the seven interviews.  They include one college, one police force, and two private organizations.

Data collection

     The data was collected through open-ended interviews.  A list of questions was developed to guide the discussions.  The guiding questions were personalized to each organization and based on their responses to the mail-out survey and other available reports and policy documents.  Each interview was approximately one hour in length.  The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed.

Data Analysis

     Critical Discourse Analysis.  The transcripts were analyzed line by line to gain full theoretical accounting of the data (Glaser, 1978, as cited in Charmaz, 1983).   Critical discourse analysis was used as the main methodology.  Critical discourse analysis goes beyond other forms of discourse analysis and conversational analysis “by focusing directly on macro and micro power factors that operate in a given discursive context” (Corson, 1999:4).  Critical discourse analysis provides the framework to uncover the hidden ways in which discourse is used to reproduce and legitimate ideologies, identities and relations of power.  Norman Fairclough’s framework for analyzing discursive events was used.  According to b critical discourse analysis is:

discourse analysis which aims to systematically explore the often opaque relationships of causality and determination between (a) discursive practises, events, and texts, and (b) wider social and cultural structures, relations and processes; to investigate how such practices, events and texts arise out of and are ideologically shaped by relations of power and struggles over power; and to explore how the opacity4  of these relationships between discourse and society is itself a factor in securing power and hegemony (1993b:135).
Results and Discussion

     The results reveal the employers’ evaluation of minority language skills learned informally.  The data indicate that employers generally do not value informally learned minority languages in the same way as formally learned languages or dominant languages.  Furthermore, employers devalue these minority language skills by normalizing minority language skills, or seeing them as reflecting a natural talent, thus they do not command higher returns in the labour market similar to official bilingualism or formally learned languages.

Employers’ Evaluation of Minority Language Skills

    Three of the four organizations did make at least one reference to valuing minority languages as a resource.  As one organization stated, language fluency is an achievement or credential that increases applicants’ competitiveness in the hiring process (Interview 4:51).  Another organization stated other language and cultural skills are an asset.  Yet another felt the language skills are a bonus for the organization.

    A value employers recognize of employing minority language speakers is that it is also indicative of cultural knowledge.  The organizations recognize that language and culture are intertwined.  As one organization stated “when you talk about language you can’t separate it from culture...that’s the added kind of value that they’re not only giving [presentations] in the other language but their awareness of the culture” (Interview 5:88).  Another organization stated that they employ individuals from minority language groups because “if you understand the language, you can understand the culture” (Interview 3:12), thus they have “greater cultural sensitivity” (Interview 1:44) in dealing with members of diverse groups.  In fact, one organization felt the benefit in terms of language ability was secondary to the cultural knowledge.

    While there is some value accorded to minority language skills and cultural knowledge, evidence appears that minority language skills are not valued in the same way as official languages or formally learned languages.  First, employers are clear that official languages are more valued.  The following quote illustrates this unequivocally:

really I think where we do see there being real advantages is people with English and French capability and that can be a big advantage, you know particularly if you’re dealing with groups like the federal government, but other than English or French you...you know...[if] there’s any contribution to job performance its indirect (Interview 3:195-198).
This quote also shows how employers devalue minority language skills.  The employer states that official languages have a direct advantage, whereas if there is any contribution of other languages the contribution is indirect.

    Ontario employers use a discourse that devalues minority skills.  They claim that these skills are not as important to their organization as dominant languages.  In response to a list of minority language skills possessed by employees the employer responded “its an amazing list, some of which we would never use in a business context because, you know, they’re the national language of one province in Nigeria or Somalia or something” (Interview 3: 62).  This same organization devalued any responsibilities an individual would have as a result of speaking a minority language:

No [a minority language speaker would not have any additional responsibilities], I mean, you get the little things like, I mean, somebody calls in, you know, they don’t speak English very well and they’re struggling, you might put somebody else on the phone, but that’s very rare (Interview 3:75).
The individual continues, other languages are important “to go out and talk to customers, sure, I mean, we do that, but its not an everyday thing, but ...I don’t think it should be overstated” (Interview 5: 137).  These quotes devalue customer service as a little thing, something that is very rare and not done every day.

    Second, we see how minority languages are not valued in the same way as formally learned languages.  As one employer stated: “if I’m hiring you to teach French, I’m going to want you to have a degree in French” (Interview 1:547).  Formal language fluency is seen as a commodity which can be measured.  Since it can be measured by a formal certificate, it is more valued than the non-dominant language skills that cannot be measured.  The evidence also reveals that employers actually devalue language fluency if it was not learned in a formal institution, but learned in the natural informal way.  A quote from one of the interviews reveals this point:

We expect [employees] to be able to function at a...beyond a colloquial level.  We expect them to be able to do formal business presentations or business proposals in grammatical, coherent form.  But there are many ways that you can acquire that, probably the best way is through formal study because you at least get the grammar pounded into your head rather than, you know, colloquial street talk (Interview 3:204).
The bias towards some standard version of languages is demonstrated clearly.  The perception is that if a language is learned informally, the “standard” grammar and structures are less likely to be mastered.

    Ontario employers also use a discourse that views minority language skills learned informally as reflecting natural talent.  For example as one organization stated “it is valuable if you have people who have expertise in more than one culture because its more natural for them in understanding some of the differences” (Interview 3:29).  By conceiving of minority language skills in this way, the skill need not be valued or rewarded in the labour market the same way as minority languages skills learned formally, which require “effort” and “challenge” to learn.

    If minority language skills were seen as a real value added for the organization, employers would implement initiatives in order to actively recruit individuals with minority language fluency.  The evidence, however, suggests that only in very few cases do employers advertise positions as designated bilingual positions.  In most cases, the employer specifies that the additional language skill would an asset or preference, not a requirement.  The organizations do not consciously set out to employ minority language speakers, they feel it just happens naturally, it is a bonus if employees speak additional languages.  As one organization said of “its no big deal to find a Mandarin speaking employee” (Interview 3:136).  Yet another organization stated hiring people fluent in other languages “we talk about it less because it just happens, you know.  You know, again, that’s a factor of demography.  I mean how are you not going to hire a diverse work-force in Toronto” (Interview 3:154).

    Moreover, none of the organizations offer rewards, or benefits to minority language speakers for possessing minority language fluency.  This lack of action, reveals that Ontario employers do not view minority languages as a skill that warrants value or rewards in the same way as official languages.  On the other hand, employers see no difficulty in rewarding dominant language speakers.  As one organization stated, we may have offered rewards for French and English

because its an added skill that it...then, you know, you can pay more for it, but to my knowledge I don’t know that we’ve done that with some of the others... I mean we may and nobody’s mentioned it to me...You know it’s very possible that being hired in a position that the manager knew this is a real benefit that they speak this language so therefore we can afford to take him a little bit higher on the scale.  It could happen, but...to my knowledge, I’ve never heard of it happening (Interview 5:286).
Finally, if organizations were truly committed to valuing minority languages they would implement concrete initiatives that systemically change their organizations.  Unfortunately, all initiatives that organizations implemented did not systemically change the way they operate.  Only on one occasion did an employer specify the need to change the way they structure meetings if they truly want to meet the needs of their diverse clients.  The most common initiative implemented is diversity training.  Training is a simple, cost effective initiative that does not systemically change organizational structure.  While training is a worthwhile initiative, it is only a first step towards changing organizational structures and truly valuing minority languages.

    There are some organizational differences that appeared in the data on the differential evaluation of informally and formally learned languages.  The numbers of interviews are small, thus it is difficult to make generalizations, however the following trends are reported.  From this data set, it appears that academic institutions award more value to formally learned languages.  They use formal qualifications as the method of evaluating language fluency.  The academic institutions also stated that they evaluate language proficiency differently if it was acquired formally or informally.  In public/private organizations, languages learned informally can be more valued than those learned formally in an academic institution.  A quote from one of the Public organizations reveals this point clearly5:

Generally, we find that people that have spoken that language as a child in the home are more proficient than someone who took it at a university, just because they’re not using it as much as when they take it...so we find that people that were sort of born into the language are more proficient (Interview 4, line 380).
It is possible that the differential evaluation of formal and informal learning may be dependent on context.  Informal language learning may not be valued in academic institutions, but may be more valued in other workplaces.  More research is needed to explore this distinction further.

Evaluation of Language Skills and Social and Cultural Relations

     The data reveal the importance in understanding how skill as a social construct is embedded in a bodily subject (Dunk, 1996).  This statement indicates that the definition of skill is inextricably bound up in social and cultural relations of gender/race/ethnicity.  As such, “the assessment of the worth of an individual’s or group’s labour power is tied up with the overall valuation of that individual or group” (Dunk, 1996:102).  In reality, then, there can be no objective evaluation of skills.  The following quote reveals this point:

as someone who was raised...was born in Canada and raised in an English speaking home...my English skills have never been questioned here.  If, you know, I’m someone whose English is a second language and now you’re going to ask me where you learned your language, was it through speaking with people, your know, informally, or was it in a formal and I’m going to place more value on the formal aspect.  I have a concern with that, you know (Interview 5: 287).
This quote lends support the argument that the assessment of value accorded to skills can be bound up in the overall evaluation of the cultural group.  This employer recognizes that her English skills, are never questioned because she is Canadian, yet for other cultural groups their skills can be questioned, and it can be expected that they learn the language in a formal context.

     Further support for this position also appears in the data.  First languages learned informally are typically learned by members of the cultural group while a second language learned in a formal academic institution is usually learned by a white person.  As we learned from the current data set, the language learned formally (usually by a white person) is more valued than the first language learned informally by a minority group member.  Recall that formal study was seen as the best way to acquire the “standard version” of a language and that degrees in the language are required by teachers of the language in academic institutions.  This result raises questions about whether the assessment of value is being confounded by the overall evaluation of the cultural group.  Future research should examine this hypothesis further to reveal if evidence can be found to support this argument.

Tension between valuing formal and informal learning

     An interesting theme appeared in the discourse of Ontario employers.  This theme is the tension experienced by organizations between valuing formal and informal learning.  As is seen in the quote below, an organization starts to claim strongly that they value informal learning, however it is still believed that formal learning is the best way to acquire the “standard” form of the language.  “We really tend to look at what the person can do, what their proficiency is.  We don’t care how they got it, we care that they have it”  (Interview 3: 892).  The individual continues:

We expect [employees] to be able to function at a...beyond a colloquial level.  We expect them to be able to do formal business presentations or business proposals in grammatical, coherent form.  But there are many ways that you can acquire that, probably the best way is through formal study because you at least get the grammar pounded into your head rather than, you know, colloquial street talk (895).
Later on the same individual also states: “oh, no, we don’t care about degrees [in the language]” (933).

    Yet another private organization also revealed the tension between valuing official languages learned informally.  When asked if they make a distinction between formally and informally learned languages, the organization said “No...I don’t think we do...we hire people on an everyday basis with English, we don’t look at [where they learned the language], I don’t think” (Interview 5: 278b).  The hedge “I don’t think” at the end of this statement is a clear indication that a tension is occurring.  The employer realizes that they make a distinction in the way they treat people who speak dominant languages and those who speak minority languages and questions that in her mind, in front of the interviewer.

Conclusion

     The evidence in this data set reveals that minority languages are not viewed as resources in the same way as dominant languages or official languages.  Minority bilingual fluency is not valued as a form of human capital that yields higher returns in the labour market the same way as official bilingualism or even minority languages learned formally.  Ontario organizations clearly recognize the demographic characteristics of the province, the reality of doing global business and skills shortages and they clearly see the benefits of employing individuals who are fluent in minority languages.  However, they do not truly value minority language fluency as a “skill”.  Ontario employers recognize minority languages as an added bonus for their organizations, but they do not implement initiatives which consciously set out to hire minority language speakers for they feel it just happens naturally.  Thus, there is no surprise that there is a low level of interest generally in rewarding the users of these minority languages as owners of worthwhile resources for organizations, and indirectly for Ontario as a whole.

     The data in the following paper provide support for the position that “skills” are socially constructed through discourse (Blackmore, 1989; Dunk, 1996; Shields, 1996).  We need to be aware that the language used to talk about an issue affects the solutions offered.  Hence, discourse is key to social and cultural reproduction.  The implication is that discourse plays an important role in hindering and facilitating the progress to equality.

     We saw in the data how the language skills possessed by the dominant group are labeled by them as the most desirable and valued:  “The real advantage is people with English and French...for other languages the contribution to job performance is indirect” (Interview 3:194).  Employers claim that these skills are the product of the most intelligent, gifted or talented individuals and thus should warrant the most worth.  The first languages of minority language speakers that are learned informally are seen as the product of natural abilities thus are devalued in Ontario society.  This labeling of the dominant group’s capital as superior is the way the dominant group can maintain their dominance through discourse.

    In sum, it is important to realise that the notion of skill is a construction which is socially created and hence changeable.  If we want to change the unjust situation that affects the speakers of minority languages we need to change the discourse surrounding minority languages to one which truly values minority languages as skills worth conserving, maintaining and putting to use.

    An implication for future research is suggested by the following study.  Future research could examine if organizations who use discourse that values minority language skills as a resource are more equitable than those who do not.  A case study approach could be used to examine in more detail the organization in this data set who used this discourse extensively.  Preliminary analysis obtained from their website shows the progression of this company to a more equitable workplace.   First, they illustrate pictures of diverse groups using their products on their website.  As well, their diversity philosophy was posted:

XYZ is committed to constant respect for its employees and customers.  We acknowledge and value differences such as culture, age, race, gender, class, sexual orientation, education, disability, religion, family status and life experiences.  The differences of people in our work-force and customer base are a strength to XYZ.
Their CEO is also a woman.  The hypothesis is that there is a correlation between using the valuing minority language skills discourse and a more equitable workplace.  More research is needed to examine their employment equity reports and interview employees to determine if in fact this organization is a more equitable workplace.

 

 Endnotes

1.  This recognition could come in the form of greater remuneration and employment benefits in occupations where fluency in the first language is a useful qualification for doing formal work (for example, in nursing homes for ethnic communities, or in bank branches and government offices targeting specific cultural groups).  It could also come in some form of formal credit towards a qualification, where fluency in the minority first language is an academically relevant competency (for example, in teaching aboriginal studies at compulsory or higher education levels).

2.  Hegemony “describes how people agree to do things under the pressure of invisible cultural power” (Corson, 1998:6).  In this way, people contribute to injustices even if they unaware they are doing so and the oppressed participate in their own domination by using the same discourses.

3.  While a cause and effect relationship cannot be claimed, a correlation definitely exists.

4. By opacity, Fairclough is suggesting that the linkages between discourse, ideology and power may be unconscious to those involved.

 5. Quotes such as this are extremely rare.

 

References

Blackmore, J. (1989).  Educational leadership: A feminist critique.  Educational Leadership.  London: Falmer.

Bourdieu, P. (1971).  Systems of education and systems of thought, in M. Young (ed.) Knowledge and Control.  London:  Collier Macmillan.

Charmaz, K. (1983).  The grounded theory method:  An explanation and interpretation, in Glaser, B.G. (ed).  More Grounded Theory Methodology:  A Reader.  Mill Valley, California:  Sociology Press.

Charmaz, K. (1990).  Discovering chronic illness:  Using grounded theory, in Glaser, B.G. (ed). More Grounded Theory Methodology:  A Reader.  Mill Valley, California:  Sociology Press.

Corson, D. (1998).  Changing education for diversity.  Buckingham:  Open University Press.

Dunk, Thomas (1996). Culture, skill, masculinity and Whiteness: Training and the politics of identity.  In Dunk, T., McBride, S., & Nelson, R.W., (eds) The Training Trap: Ideology, Training, and the Labour Market.  Winnipeg, Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 101-123.

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Fairclough, N., ed. (1992). Critical language awareness Longman: London.

Farrell, L. (2000).  Ways of doing, ways of being:  Language education and ‘working’ identities.  Unpublished manuscript.

Foucault, M. (1982).  The subject and power, in Dreyfus, H. & Rabinow, P. Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Brighton, Sussex: Harvester Press.

Glaser, B.G. (1994). More grounded theory methodology:  A reader.  Mill Valley, California:  Sociology Press.

Glaser, B. G. (1968). The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis, in Glaser, B.G. (ed). More Grounded Theory Methodology:  A Reader.  Mill Valley, California:  Sociology Press.

Goldberg, M.P., & Corson, D. (2000).  Linguistic diversity as a resource?  Evidence in the discourse of Ontario employers. Network for Approaches to Life Long Learning, unpublished working paper.

Goldberg, M.P., & Corson, D. (1999).  Immigrant and Aboriginal first languages as prior learning qualifications for formal employment in the business, government and education sectors.  Network for Approaches to Life Long Learning, http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/depts/sese/csew/nall.

Jick, T. D. (1979).  Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods:  Triangulation in action. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 602-611.

Shields, J. (1996).  Flexible work, labour market polarization, and the politics of skills training and enhancement. In Dunk, T., McBride, S., & Nelson, R.W., (eds) The Training Trap: Ideology, Training, and the Labour Market.  Winnipeg, Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 53-72.

Taylor, C. L. (1995).  Dimensions of diversity in Canadian business.  Ottawa:  Conference Board of Canada.
   

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The Research Network on New Approaches to Lifelong Learning
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
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OISE/UT