Language policy formation in higher education: discursive tension and legitimacy-seeking deliberation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionThingnes, J. S. (2021). Language policy formation in higher education: discursive tension and legitimacy-seeking deliberation. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies. 10.1080/15427587.2021.2004147
How are processes of language policy formation carried out? Besides, how does one negotiate competing discourses in a policy process to ensure its legitimacy? Such questions sparked the interest for this study, which examines legitimization processes involved in the development of language policy guidelines at a higher education institution in Norway. The article examines how different actors at the institution strive to obtain legitimacy for their different views, as well as for the policy process as a whole. The data collected include audio recordings of meetings in a language policy committee, submissions from a round of consultations, and language policy guidelines. The article shows how actors drawing on different discourses concerning use of English and Norwegian met during the process. Due to tension between discourses, the policy committee had to take several steps in order for the process and the final guidelines to be acknowledged as legitimate. Most importantly, a range of voices and discourses had to be included. The article offers insight for language policy scholarship as it highlights policy formation in higher education settings and draws attention to how the context of policy formation defines what is seen as legitimate, allowing for future comparative perspectives.