Examining the Political Origins of Language Policies

Huw Lewis*, Elin Royles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Huw Lewis and Elin Royles analyse the origins of specific language policies and trace their development over time. They argue that existing literature on language policy fails to identify how and why particular choices emerge and how these are related to political factors. As a conceptual framework, Lewis and Royles examine historical institutionalism and its focus on how political institutions influence policy decisions and interact with other institutions. They consider the usefulness of the concepts of ‘path dependence’ and ‘critical juncture’ for understanding language policy formation. They then apply a neo-institutionalist approach to analyse two key policy measures for the Welsh language. They conclude that the neo-institutionalist approach facilitates a greater understanding of how policy is formed but is only one such theory that can be used to this end.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage, Policy and Territory
Subtitle of host publicationA Festschrift for Colin H. Williams
EditorsWilson McLeod, Rob Dunbar, Kathryn Jones, John Walsh
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030943462
ISBN (Print)9783030943455
Publication statusPublished - 08 Jul 2022


  • Critical juncture
  • Institutionalism
  • Language policy
  • Path dependence
  • Welsh language


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