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date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter aims to discuss how investigating language and political economy enables us to gain a complex understanding of the origins and foundations of inequality among speakers. We will argue that language and political economy are intrinsically interconnected and interdependent, and we will present a processual approach to political economy, embedding both types of questions into the current conditions of late capitalism. We will discuss how, especially in the fields of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology, the link between language and late capitalism has been studied. Finally, we will propose a discussion of the three processes related to the valuation of languages and their speakers—the production, distribution, and consumption of resources—drawing on three ethnographic research projects that investigated the effects that current political-economic investments in language in Switzerland have on social inequality.

Keywords: political economy, inequality, processual approach, late capitalism, sociolinguistics, ethnography, Switzerland

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