Power and the role of language

Luisa Martín Rojo
Table of contents

Two research questions are addressed in this chapter. Firstly, what role do knowledge and discourses we have accumulated about languages and their speakers play in the production and justification of the political rationalities with which the population is governed, individuals domesticated and societies securitised. Secondly, the extent to which this knowledge has led to the enactment of specific techniques of power, integrated within the same political rationalities – techniques often aimed at controlling and guiding the population and at obtaining consent (and suppressing resistance) to power relations that, among other consequences, limit people’s capacity for action or subject them to conditions of domination or exclusion.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Anzaldúa, Gloria
1987Borderlands/La frontera: The new mestiza. San Fracisco: Aunt Lute Books.Google Scholar
Bonfiglio, Thomas Paul
2013 “Inventing the native speaker.” Critical Multilingualism Studies 1 (2): 29–58.Google Scholar
Bourdieu, Pierre
1986 “The forms of capital.” In Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. by John G. Richardson, 241–258. New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
1991 “The production and reproduction of legitimate language.” In Language and Symbolic Power, ed. by John B. Thompson, 43–65. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
Cabanas, Edgar, and Eva Illouz
2019Happycracia. Cómo la ciencia y la industria de la felicidad controlan nuestras vidas [Happycracy. How the science and industry of happiness control our lives]. Barcelona: Planeta.Google Scholar
Castillo-González, Marta
2020 “Precariedad cool: La trendinización discursiva de la precariedad juvenil en la prensa digital español [Cool precariousness: The discursive trendinization of youth precariousness in the Spanish digital press].” Revista Mediterránea de Comunicación 11 (2): 155–168. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Del Percio, Alfonso, Vivian Sze Wan and S. W. V. Wong
2019 “Resetting minds and souls: Language, employability and the making of neoliberal subjects.” In Luisa Martín Rojo & Alfonso Del Percio, Language and Neoliberal Governmentality, (pp. 162–189). New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Duchêne, Alexandre
2008Ideologies across Nations: The Construction of Linguistic Minorities at the United Nations. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2011 “Néolibéralisme, inégalités sociales et plurilinguismes: L’exploitation des ressources langagières et des locuteurs [Neoliberalism, social inequalities and multilingualism: The exploitation of language resources and speakers].” Langage & Société 136: 81–106. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2019 “Multilingualism: An insufficient answer to sociolinguistic inequality. Items-insights from the social sciences.” Social Science Research Council. October 8, 2019. bit.ly/3fRpLyL.Google Scholar
Duchêne, Alexandre, and Monica Heller
(eds) 2012Language in Late Capitalism: Pride and Profit. New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Eley, Louise, and Ben Rampton
2019 “Everyday surveillance, Goffman and unfocused interaction.” Surveillance and Society 18 (2): 199–215. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fanon, Frantz
1952Peau noire. Masques Blancs [Peau noire. Masques Blancs]. Paris: Les Éditions du Seuil.Google Scholar
Flores, Nelson
2013The unexamined relationship between neoliberalism and plurilingualism: A cautionary tale. Tesol Quarterly, 47(3), 500–520.Google Scholar
Foucault, Michel
1977aDiscipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
1977b “Intellectuals and power.” In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, ed. by Donald F. Bouchard, and Sherry Simon, 205–217. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
1978The History of Sexuality, an Introduction, Volume I. New York: Random House, Inc.Google Scholar
1980Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
1982 “The subject & power.” In Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism & Hermaneutics, ed. by Hubert L. Dreyfus, and Paul Rabinow, 208–226. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
1984/1987 “The ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom: An interview with Michel Foucault on January 20, 1984.” Philosophy & Social Criticism July 12 1987: 112–131.Google Scholar
1988 “Technologies of the self: Lectures at University of Vermont Oct. 1982.” In Technologies of the Self, ed. by Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman, and Patrick H. Hutton, 16–49. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
2007Security, territory, population: lectures at the Collège de France 1977–78 Springer.Google Scholar
Fraser, Nancy
2003 “From discipline to flexibilization? Rereading Foucault in the shadow of globalization.” Constellations 10 (2): 160–171. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Gao, Shuang and Joseph Sung-You Park
2015 “Space and Language Learning under the Neoliberal Economy.” L2 Journal 7 (3): 78–96. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
García, Ofelia
2009Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Goffman, Erving
1963Behaviour in Public Places. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
1971Relations in Public. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
1981Forms of Talk. Philadelphia, PA: Pennsylvania University Press.Google Scholar
2009Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
Grillo, Ralp D.
1989Dominant Languages: Language and Hierarchy in Britain and France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Gumperz, John
(ed) 1982Language and Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Heller, Monica
2002Éléments d’une sociolinguistique critique. Paris: Hatier.Google Scholar
2011Paths to Post-nationalism: A Critical Ethnography of Language and Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2014 “Gumperz and Social Justice”. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 23 (3): 192–198. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Hobsbawm, Eric. J.
1992Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Hook, Derek
2004 “Governmentality and technologies of subjectivity.” In Critical Psychology, ed. by Derek Hook, 239–271. Cape Town: Juta and Company.Google Scholar
Jacquemet, Marco
2014 “Transidioma and Asylum: Gumperz’s Legacy in Intercultural Institutional Talk.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 23 (3): 199–212. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Kraft, Kamilla
2019 “Linguistic Securitisation as a Governmentality in the Neoliberalising Welfare State.” In Language and Neoliberal Governmentality, ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo and Alfonso Del Percio, 29–48. New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Lemke, Thomas
2001 “ ‘The birth of bio-politics’: Michel Foucault’s lecture at the College de France on neo-liberal governmentality.” Economy and Society, 30: 190–207. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Martin Rojo, Luisa
2010 “Jargon”. Variation and change: Pragmatic perspectives (Vol. 6). ed. by In Mirjan Fried, Jan Ola Östman & Jef Verschueren, 155–170. John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
Martín Rojo, Luisa
2016 “Language and Power.” In The Oxford Handbook of Language and Society, ed. by Ofelia Garía, Nelson Flores and Massimiliano Spotti, 77–102. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
2018 “Neoliberalism and Linguistic Governmentality”. In The Oxford Handbook of Language Policy and Planning ed. by James W. Tollefson and Miguel Pérez-Milans, 544–567. Oxford: Oxford Univerity Press.Google Scholar
2019 “The ‘self-made speaker’: The neoliberal governance of speakers.” In Language and Neoliberal Governmentality ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo and Alfonso Del Percio, 162–189. New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2020 “Michel Foucault: Discurso y política.” Anuario de Glotopolítica, 35–56.Google Scholar
2020 “Sujetos hablantes”. In Claves para entender el multilingüismo contemporáneo ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo & Joan Pujolar, 165–198. Zaragoza: Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza.Google Scholar
Martín Rojo, Luisa and Alfonso Del Percio
2019 “Neoliberalism, language, and governmentality.” In Language and Neoliberal Governmentality ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo and Alfonso Del Percio, 1–25. New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Martín Rojo, Luisa and Rosina Márquez-Reiter
2019 “Language surveillance: Pressure to follow local models of speakerhood among Latinx students in Madrid.” International journal of the sociology of language, 257: 17–48. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Martín Rojo, Luisa and Lilia Rebeca Rodríguez Torres
2016 “Muda lingüística y movilidad social. Trayectorias de jóvenes migrantes hacia la universidad.” Discurso & Sociedad, 1: 100–133.Google Scholar
Mignolo, Walter
2000Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Moustaoui Srhir, Adil and David Poveda
2022 “Family Language Policy and the Family Sociolinguistic Order in a Neoliberal Context.” Sociolinguistic Studies, 16 (1).Google Scholar
Moustaoui Srhir, Adil, Gabriela Prego Vázquez and Maria Luz Zas Varela
2019 “Translingual Practices and Reconstruction of Identities in Maghrebi Students in Galicia.” Languages, 4 (3): 63. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Moyer, Melissa & Luisa Martín Rojo
2007 “Language, Migration and Citizenship: New challenges in the regulation of bilingualism.” In Bilingualism: A Social Approach ed. by Monica Heller, 137–160. London: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ortega, Ane, Jacqueline Urla, Estibaliz Amorrortu, Jone Goirigolzarri and Belen Uranga
2015 “Linguistic Identity Among New Speakers of Basque.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 231: 85–105. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Park, Joseph Sung-Yul
2021In Pursuit of English: Language and Subjectivity in Neoliberal South Korea. Oxfod: Oxford University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Pérez-Milans, Miguel and Guo Grace Xiaoyan
2020 “Hoping for success, becoming a spiritual subject: Converted returnees in China.” Language, Culture and Society, 2 (2): 197–226. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Piller, Ingrid
2002 “Passing for a native speaker: Identity and success in second language learning.” Journal of sociolinguistics, 6 (2): 179–208. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Pujolar, Juan
2011New Speakers, New Identities: Linguistic Practices and Ideologies in the Post-National Era (research project NEOPHON; ref. FFI2011 24781).Google Scholar
2019 “Linguistic Entrepreneurship: Neoliberalism, Language Learning, and Class.” In Language and Neoliberal Governmentality ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo and Alfonso Del Percio, 113–134. New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ramallo, Fernando
2021 “Neofaliantismo y el sujeto hablante.” In Claves Para Entender El Multilingüismo Contemporáneo ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo and Juan Pujolar, 229–265. Barcelona/Zaragoza: Editorial UOC/Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza.Google Scholar
Rampton, Ben
2016 “Foucault, Gumperz and Governmentality: Interaction, Power and Subjectivity in the Twenty-first Century.” Sociolinguistics: Theoretical Debates, 303–328. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2020 “Neoliberalism, Language and (In)securitization”. Plenary Conference at the conference. Madrid: UAM, June 2020.Google Scholar
Said, Edward
1978Orientalism: Western Concepts of the Orient. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
Santiago Muñoz, Ana
2017 “La sociedad de control. Una mirada a la educación Del siglo XXI desde Foucault.” Revista de Filosofía, 73: 317–336. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Sokhi-Bulley, Bal
2011 “Governing (through) Rights: Statistics as Technologies of Governmentality.” Social & Legal Studies, 20 (2): 139–155. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Stoler, Ann Laura
1995Race and the Education of Desire. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
Sunyol, Andra and Eva Codó
2019 “Fabricating Neoliberal Subjects through the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.” In Language and Neoliberal Governmentality ed. by Luisa Martín Rojo and Alfonso Del Percio, 135–161. New York: Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Urla, Jaqueline
2012Reclaiming Basque: Language, nation, and cultural activism. University of Nevada Press.Google Scholar
Wacquant, Loic
2010 “Crafting the neoliberal state: workfare, prisonfare, and social insecurity.” Sociological forum, 25 (2): 197–220. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Yeung, Steven and John Gray
2022 “Neoliberalism, English, and spoiled identity: The case of a high-achieving university graduate in Hong Kong.” Language in Society, 1–22. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Yuval-Davis, Nira., Georgie Wemyss and Kathryn Cassidy
2019Bordering. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar