Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

HSS Seminar

‘Researching language policy and planning on the ground'


Dr. Anik Nandi

December 20, 2018, at 3:00 PM November 27 , 2018 at  10:00AM

Venue:  Lecture Hall 2


National language policy which is implemented from the top is perceived as official legislation designed to influence people’s linguistic lives. Recent research in language policy and planning (hence, LPP) underscore how top-down policy-makers, perceived as stakeholders of language ‘governance’ (Foucault 1978), endorse the interests of dominant social groups, marginalise minority languages and thus, perpetuate systems of socio-lingual inequality (Nandi 2018). Until relatively recently, LPP research has centred mostly on state-run language policy formulation and planning programmes with some exceptions (see Tollefson 1991; Shohamy 2006). However, the role of the actors within this discourse, such as parents, students, classroom teachers and other members of civil society, for whom the LPP is designed and their role in the interpretation and implementation of LPP has tended to receive diminished attention from researchers and policy makers. Rather than contrasting divides between ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ policies, there has in mo re recent years been an attempt to analyse how discourses circulate across and within the language policy cycle. As Johnson (2018) notes, there is now a growing interest in how social actors position themselves vis-à- vis such discourses as a means of opening up ideological spaces for the use or non-use of certain

languages or linguistic varieties. This has shifted the focus in language policy research away from a  macro-analysis of national policies to an understanding how such policies are interpreted, implemented and negotiated by social actors on the ground. While elaborating on effective research methods to investigate language policies, Hornberger (2015) rejects the top-down approach for policy evaluation, postulating that it does not offer a fuller description of LPP processes across macro, institutional (i.e. school, community, family) and interpersonal layers– layers which they describe as a metaphorical onion. Whereas the outer layers of the ‘onion’ refer to macro level policy processes, the interior layers represent policy accommodations and negotiations that take place on the ground. Therefore, the gap in the literature on language policy interpretation and implementation can better be explained by slicing the onion ethnographically. Drawing on ethnographic research from different geopolitical contexts including Spain and the UK, this lecture intends to address mainly the role of human agency at various levels of policy formulation and enactment.


About the speaker:

Dr. Anik Nandi is a sociolinguist with expertise in language policy and planning. He received his PhD in Sociolinguistics from the School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.  Prior to this, he earned his M.Phil from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. His research interests primarily consist of sociolinguistics, ethnography, critical discourse analysis and, languages spoken in India and Spain. Currently, he is working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘Foreign, indigenous and community languages in the devolved regions of the UK: policy and practice for growth’ at Queen’s University Belfast. Before this, he worked at he the United Kingdom Higher Education Academy as an Associate Fellow.