The Languages of Homo Academicus: Towards a Sociolinguistics of Scientific Production
This study presents a sociolinguistics of academic publishing in historical as well as in contemporary times. From the perspective of Swedish academia, it unites a wide range of scholarly knowledge, including perspectives from the sociology of science, history of science and ideas, and research policy. The study focuses on publishing practices in the empirical realities of two disciplinary fields, history and psychology. Drawing on facts and figures from publishing practices as well as interviews, the study argues that English is currently making inroads into the field of history, in line with and aided by the field-external power of new regimes of research evaluation and performance-based funding impinging on the university field at large. In the field of history, unlike in psychology, the English language is thus currently a weapon since it provides access to international publishing markets where new forms of scientific authority can be obtained. This option seems to be most compelling for junior scholars seeking to enter the field. Following Bourdieu, publishing in English is here interpreted as pertaining to a social strategy, enacted in pursuit of investing differently, so as to subvert the order of the historical field.
This article utilizes Bourdieu's sociology to grasp the relations between linguistic practice and spatiality, and, through that effort, to position language as a pivotal terrain in internationalizing academe. Empirically, it explores Swedish academe and the linguistic practices of its dwellers: Swedish-speaking and non-Swedish-speaking researchers in four disciplines. Here, Swedish co-exists with English as a lingua franca and other languages. Observational and interview data show that this situation gives rise to complex linguistic practices in the workplace, consisting of speakers alternating between Swedish and English or evading other languages. Following Bourdieu, these phenomena manifest in moments when matters of space are rendered salient. They show that linguistic practice is bound up with space to the extent that their interrelationship becomes discernable only when the spatial logic that confines linguistic practices is rejigged. While linguistic practices seemingly operate on a location-based principle, they actually pertain to speakers’ linguistic habitus in relation to the linguistic market conditions in play. (Linguistic practice, space, internationalizing academe)*
Worldwide, academic values and practices are currently undergoing a process of profound transformation, driven by new forms of global competitiveness, as well as new notions of accountability , productivity, and knowledge dissemination. This chapter introduces this issue and explicates its sociolinguistic relevance. It then introduces the question of language choice in publishing in Swedish academia. It reviews scholarly literature related to this topic and highlights the structure–agency opposition that runs throughout this type of work. Secondly, the chapter presents Bourdieu’s stance on language choice. Bourdieu’s position demands that attention is paid to the values circulating in different disciplinary fields. In this light, the chapter discusses disciplinary variations in publishing language practices and accounts for these differences in terms of Bourdieu’s sociology of science.
‘A thoughtful study of the importance of language choice for making scholarly findings known to the world.’ — Dr Florian Coulmas, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany This book presents a sociolinguistics of academic publishing from an historical and contemporary perspective. Using Swedish academia as a case study, it focuses on publishing practices within history and psychology. The author demonstrates how new regimes of research evaluation and performance-based funding are impinging on university life. His central argument, following the French sociologist Bourdieu, is that the trend towards publishing in English should be understood as a social strategy, developed in response to such transformations. Thought-provoking and challenging, this book will interest students and scholars of sociolinguistics, language planning and language policy, research policy, sociology of science, history and psychology.