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Language Policies in the European Union and India: A Comparative Study



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Sharma, Abhimanyu Kumar 


The thesis offers a comparative analysis of language policies in the EU and India. Specifically, it examines the role of power and ideology in the formulation and implementation of language policies. The need for this thesis emerged in view of the lack of comprehensive comparative analyses of language policies which leads to epistemological gaps, including one-dimensional narratives of language policies, and theories which are lacking in precision. In light of these gaps, the thesis undertakes a comprehensive investigation of policies in eight policy domains (administration, legal safeguards for minority languages, law, education, media, healthcare, business, and social welfare) in the EU and India and in two case studies each from the EU (Luxembourg, Wales), and India (Manipur, Tamil Nadu), chosen on the basis of maximum and minimum deviation from the EU’s and Indian policies. The study examines policy texts (statutes on language use in these polities), and contexts which concern the historical and socio-political factors underpinning language policies.

The thesis makes three important contributions. First, it marks a break from the prevalent understanding of power in macro-level policymaking. Research to date has tended to view power as a monolithic entity, while this thesis offers evidence that power and ideology are not uniform across policy domains. Second, it bridges the text-context divide of language policy research by conducting an investigation of policy-related legislation, and highlighting the importance of texts in understanding language policies, as they reflect the changes in power structures through time. Third, the thesis proposes a new analytical concept for investigating language policies, Categories of Differentiation (COD). Categories of Differentiation refer to the sets of binaries which underpin language policies in the aforementioned case studies. These binaries include the hills-valley divide (Manipur), the Dravidian-Aryan divide (Tamil Nadu), and the autochthonous-allochthonous divide (EU) among others. Language policies have often been described as ‘multilayered’, and COD offer a systematic approach to exploring these multiple layers. Overall, the thesis demonstrates how comparative research aids understanding of language policies, and sets out a possible theoretical framework for conducting it.





Bennett, Wendy


Language Policy, Language Planning, Power, Ideology, Categories of Differentiation, European Union, India, Wales, Luxembourg, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Language and Law, Critical Discourse Analysis, Historical Structural Analysis, CDA, Language and Healthcare, Language and Business, Linguistic Minorities, Language Endangerment, Language and Education, Education Policy


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Cambridge Trust