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Special Issue: Agency in Language Planning and Policy

Deadline: 30 June 2019

The agency of language planners has emerged as a focus in recent language planning scholarship, especially in the area of micro-level planning. Ricento (2000, p. 206) argues that the distinctive feature of “newer critical/postmodern [approaches] is agency, that is, the role(s) of individuals and collectives in the processes of language use, attitudes and ultimately policies”. A focus on agency involves exploration of locations of acceptance, resistance and reinterpretation of policy and the role of actors in interpreting and shaping educational policy at the grass-roots level (Hornberger & Johnson, 2007). However, Zhao and Baldauf (2012, p. 5) critique language planning and policy scholarship for often reifying “actors’ individual or group roles in the examination of the policy implementation process” and Liddicoat (2019) has maintained that studies of agency often focus on the positive side of agency rather than looking at constraints and problems. Johnson and Johnson (2015) also argue that there are important issues of power that impact on language planning and policy processes. The study of agency in language planning and policy research therefore appears to open up layers of complexity in understanding the agency of various actors in the process, and this special issue aims to explore these layers. The issue will investigate agency broadly and focus on questions such as:

  • Who has agency in language policy and planning?
  • How is the agency of individuals and groups exercised in the process of language planning and policy development?
  • How is agency claimed, rejected or contested in language planning processes?
  • What features of language planning contexts facilitate or constrain actors’ agency?
  • How does the agentive action of language planners influence or interact with the agency of others?
  • What sorts of impact do actors have on language policy and planning?
  • What do empirical studies of language planning and policy show about the nature of agency?

Hornberger, N. H., & Johnson, D. C. (2007). Slicing the onion ethnographically: Layers and spaces in multilingual language education policy and practice. TESOL Quarterly, 44(3), 509-532. doi:10.2307/40264383

Johnson, D. C., & Johnson, E. J. (2015). Power and agency in language policy appropriation. 14(3), 221-243. doi:10.1007/s10993-014-9333-z

Liddicoat, A. J. (2019). Constraints on agency in micro-language policy and planning in schools: A case study of curriculum change. In J. Bouchard & G. P. Glasgow (Eds.), Agency in language policy and planning: Critical inquiries (pp. 149-170). New York & London: Routledge.

Ricento, T. (2000). Historical and theoretical perspectives in language policy and planning. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 4(2), 196-213. doi:10.1111/1467-9481.00111

Zhao, S., & Baldauf, R. B. (2012). Individual agency in language planning: Chinese script reform as a case study. Language Problems and Language Planning, 36(1), 1-24. doi:10.1075/lplp.36.1.01zha

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Executive Editor
Professor Anthony Liddicoat - University of Warwick
Dr Kerry Taylor-Leech -  Griffith University, Australia
Professor Nkonko Kamwangamalu -  Howard University, USA 
Book Review Editor
Professor Patrick Ng - University of Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Language Editor
Dr Pauline Bryant -  Australian National University, Australia 

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