Language awareness and agency in the availability of linguistic resources. A case study of refugees and locals in Austria

Sandra Radinger
  • Language Awareness, February 2018, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/09658416.2018.1435674

Language awarenss and agency in the context of migration

What is it about?

When locals and immigrants meet, interlocutors draw from more or less restricted repertoires of language to assist their interaction. Based on a case study on refugee-local encounters in Vienna, this paper examines what it means 'to language' this specific context. The results suggest a relationship between the speakers' degrees of language awareness and the degrees of agency they may assume. The paper argues for re-evaluating the speakers' role as constructors of what we traditionally understand as 'language'.

Why is it important?

The paper gives insight into how contextual factors (e.g. interlocutor, setting, language frameworks) become meaningful to the individual participant's language practice. With their focus on their experiences, the results allow for a better understanding of the speakers' embeddedness in specific situational contexts and the wider context of migration. This is important, as it helps to spot where speakers feel restricted by established (language) practices and how they ressolve emergent challenges of communication.


Sandra RADINGER (Author)

This study is a follow-up from a participatory research project, in which I was involved in 'the refugee-local encounter' myself. The most important learning I took home from this project was that it is worth acknowledging each participant as the individual they are, not as the role we have constructed for them. Only than we can see how they take on responsibility over their own lives and those of others. This is what I would like to encourage researchers in the field to take home from this paper.

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The following have contributed to this page: Sandra RADINGER