Languages and Linguistic Exchanges in Swedish Academia : Practices, Processes, and Globalizing Markets

Sammanfattning: Based on four separate studies, this thesis deals with Swedish academia and its dwellers, with an eye toward accounting for matters of languages and linguistic exchanges. The perspectives and thinking-tools of Pierre Bourdieu form the basis of the main leitmotif, albeit extended with insights from linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics. Methods employed include historical analysis as well as ethnographic approaches. Study 1 analyzes the historical events and language ideological labor through which English has come to be seen as a sociolinguistic problem in Swedish language planning and policy (LPP). At the focus is the notion of ‘domain loss,’ which is interpreted as a resource in the struggle to safeguard the Swedish language. Study 2 deals with the increasing importance of English in academic publishing in two disciplinary fields of Swedish academia: history and psychology. In history, in particular, English and the transnational publishing markets it bargains currently seem to offer new ways of advancing in the competition of the field, which is encouraged by the will and ensuing managerial techniques of contemporary research policy. Study 3, however, shows that this fact does not entail that Swedish is not being used as a scientific language. In the research practices preceding finalized texts in English, Swedish-speaking researchers in physics and computer science use technical and discipline-specific Swedish both orally and in writing. The principle that upholds the logic of ‘Swedish among Swedish-speakers’ is crucial also with respect to the ability of Swedish researchers to write up scientific texts in Swedish. Exploring the writing practices of a computer scientist and his successful first-time performance of two scientific texts in Swedish, study 4 shows that texts in Swedish can be produced by assembling experiences from previous discursive encounters throughout a researcher’s biographically specific discursive history. In summary, the thesis argues that while English increasingly prevails in publishing, much knowledge previously produced and reproduced on these matters within the field of LPP has tended to overstate the dominance of English, and with that, the sociolinguistic implications of the current state of affairs. The thesis proposes that Bourdieu’s work offers some purchase in attempts to engender in-depth knowledge on the position of English vis-à-vis Swedish in the globalizing markets of Swedish academia, and that epistemic reflexivity, in particular, is a pivotal driver in such an agenda.