Interactional regimes of sociolinguistic behaviour: An ethnographic exploration of the scales at play across the spaces of an asylum-seeking centre

by Massimiliano Spotti (Tilburg University)

Working Papers WP 19-06
December 2019
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Drawing on the notion of sociolinguistic scaling, the present contribution takes an asylum seeking centre as a unit of inquiry in which sociolinguistic repertoires are played out during intercultural communicative encounters. It shows how the centre’s spaces encapsulate time and space bound interactional regimes and language hierarchies. Taken as such, the different rooms of the centre, e.g. the office, the activity room and the corridor, all may seem neutral spaces where the daily lives of asylum seekers unfold. Yet again, each of these spaces reveals itself to be a power saturated environment where interactional sociolinguistic regimes lead to micro-practices of inclusion and exclusion. The article concludes with a consideration on whether the homogeneous category ‘newcomer in need of civic integration’ authored by many governments across Europe, should not be re-evaluated, in the light of the affordances of sociolinguistic scaling and digital literacy potentials that each of these newly arrived individuals have in stock in their repertoires.


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