Resisting linguistic marginalization in professional spaces.

Sandhu, P. (2015). Resisting linguistic marginalization in professional spaces: Constructing multi-layered oppositional stances. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(3), 369-391.

This paper analyzes the resistant stances enacted by six recently-graduated, Hindi medium educated (HME) Indian women against the primacy accorded to English medium educated (EME) individuals in urban professional hiring practices. The data were collected in face-to-face, audio-recorded interviews by the researcher in the summer of 2013 from New Delhi. Aligning with Jaffe’s (2009) argument that a salient role of stance-based research is to theorize the relationship between stancetaking and sociocultural conditions and adopting a critical constructivist perspective (while withholding claims about participants’ inner psychological states), this paper shows that within the postcolonial context of urban India, the liminal, hybrid, third spaces of participants’ locations are discursively connected to the exigencies and inequalities characteristic of their local social structures. Analysis of participants’ resistant stances demonstrates their complex, multi-layered, and context-specific characteristics elucidating the ways in which these stance performances are achieved by variously intertwining discourses about linguistic prejudices, nationalism, colonialism, gender and socioeconomic conditions. Specifically, these sociopolitical issues are related to (i) gender-based personal safety anxieties, (ii) neoliberal discourses about India’s demographic dividend (i.e. the public celebration of the increase in the country’s ‘young’ population), (iii) arguments about justice, citizenship and national language, (iv) discourses of colonialism and government apathy, (v) group rights, ethics and responsibilities, and (vi) an unvarnished shaming of the ubiquity of EME preference in local hiring practices. The paper argues that HME-associated linguistic exclusionary practices, whether driven by economic necessities or by biased linguistic ideologies, perpetuate and deepen existing class-based divides, fail the aspirational needs of a growing urban, youthful, and vernacular medium educated population while further complicating the challenges faced by women in a historically patriarchal society.

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