Language policy, in-migration and discursive debates in Wales

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Drawing on theory from critical language policy literature, this article explores the impact of discourses on in-migration on Welsh language policy. By focussing on discursive debates surrounding the subject of in-migration, the article analyses how a range of actors produce and reproduce discourses on in-migration in Wales and how these discursive struggles impact on policy. It argues that, while certain actors have been able to construct a powerful discourse on in-migration through language debates, others have failed to make their voices heard and their views on the subject have been silenced. This unequal access to the production of discourse is not incidental; it is indicative of wider power structures at play within bilingual or multilingual language communities. Therefore, while the study focusses on Wales, the article highlights a theme that is relevant to all minoritized language groups, that of the interrelationship between policy, politics and power. It also stresses the importance of adopting an approach to language policy that takes into account both structure and agency alike, and confirms that language groups should not be conceptualised by number of speakers using categories such as ‘dominant’, ‘subordinate’, ‘majority’ and ‘minority’, but rather by issues of power and status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-188
JournalLanguage Policy
Issue number2
Early online date04 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2017


  • Welsh language
  • in-migration
  • discourse
  • language policy
  • Wales
  • Plaid Cymru
  • Welsh Labour Party


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