Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts



Blackledge A & Pavlenko A (2001) Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts. International Journal of Bilingualism, 5 (3), pp. 243-257.

The focus of this special issue is on negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts, and the papers selected discuss various aspects of negotiation of identities by linguistic minority speakers. The authors argue that these interactions are always subject to societal power relations, which include, inter alia, gender, class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Crucial aspects of the ongoing construction, negotiation and renegotiation of identities in multilingual settings are beliefs about, and practices of, language use. If the dominant, majority group in a society, nation, nation-state or community considers that the ideal model of society is monolingual, monoethnic,monoreligious, and monoideological (Blommaert & Verschueren, 1998), we immediately encounter questions such as “who is in?” and “who is out?” A dominant ideology of homogeneity in heterogeneous societies raises questions of social justice, as such an ideology potentially excludes and discriminates against those who are either unable or unwilling to fit the norm. The study of language ideologies provides a theoretical framework in which the authors of the papers in this collection explore negotiation of identities in multilingual settings. While the use of the notions “ideology,” “identity,” and “negotiation” in interpreting language behaviors is certainly not new in the field of bilingualism,we see this special issue as distinct and innovative in four important ways. These four aspects include: (1) the use of a poststructuralist approach to identity, (2) the use of a common theoretical framework, which underscores the importance of considering language ideologies and power relations in context, (3) a clarification of the meaning of “negotiation of identities,” and (4) an emphasis on social significance and social justice. These four features will be discussed in the present introduction.

International Journal of Bilingualism: Volume 5, Issue 3

FundersUniversity of Birmingham
Publication date01/09/2001
Publication date online01/09/2001

People (1)


Professor Adrian Blackledge
Professor Adrian Blackledge

Professor in Education, Education