Publication details [#45135]
Holborow, Marnie. 2007. Language, ideology and neoliberalism. Journal of Language and Politics 6 (1) : 51–73.
Article in journal
Language as a subject
When the ideas of capitalist globalisation appear to speak as one across the world, it is timely to re-examine the interconnections between language and ideology. The global market and its dominant neoliberal ideology, increasingly expressed in English, have led some to hold that the language itself constructs the hegemonic order of global capitalism. Others have focussed on language not only as the bearer of ideology but as part of the immaterial production of capitalism. This paper discusses the way in which language and ideology interconnect but argues that the ideology of neoliberalism cannot be adequately described as a discourse. Instead, it is an ideology with specific historical roots and which, as a dominant ideology, makes itself felt in language, although not without contradictions. Two aspects of language and neoliberal ideology are examined here: firstly the way in which the customer metaphor has been adopted in different and unexpected settings and, secondly, how models of listening and speaking in call centres are framed around neoliberal assumptions. Both processes aim to impose a kind of ‘corporate speak’ to reinforce neoliberal ideas as common sense, but both also contain tensions because language is neither a straitjacket nor a settled ideological product. This paper argues that language and ideology are not the same and that it is in the dynamic of their interconnection that world views are both made and contested.