Language and Participation in Public Life

Jacqueline Mowbray

in Linguistic Justice

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646616
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745485 | DOI:
Language and Participation in Public Life

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This chapter considers how language affects the ability of individuals and groups to participate in public life, and to exercise democratic control over collective decision-making. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, including his concept of ‘doxa’ (a set of principles which are viewed as inherently true), it explores the different ways in which linguistic minorities may be excluded from effective participation in the public sphere. The chapter then considers how international law engages with these issues of language and democratic participation, through an examination of rights to take part in the conduct of public affairs, both under general human rights law and within specific schemes of minority protection. This analysis demonstrates that, when compared with the expansive vision of democracy inherent in Bourdieu’s work, the way in which international law approaches democracy (and therefore linguistic justice) is limited in key ways.

Keywords: linguistic justice; international law; language; participation; public sphere; democracy; Bourdieu; doxa; minorities

Chapter.  21510 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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