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Elite multilingualism: Discourses, practices, and debates

Barakos, Elisabeth; Selleck, Charlotte


Elisabeth Barakos

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Charlotte Rawstorne
Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics


In the introduction to the special issue ‘Elite Multilingualism: Discourses, practices, and debates’, we focus on ‘elite multilingualism’ as a means to provide a window into the complex layers and nuances of today's multilingual, mobile and global society. Our aims here are to provide an empirical and conceptual discussion of a growing language-centred elitism. We also aim to expand current scholarship on the construction, valuation and instrumentalisation of multilingualism, and its consequences for the formation of social boundaries and inequalities. We first discuss major concepts such as the notion of elite/ness and multilingualism, commodification, authenticity and hierarchies and the linguistic market in a global knowledge economy. We also discuss the critical sociolinguistic, discourse and ethnographic approaches that frame this special issue and go on to outline the diverse manifestations of elite multilingualism in different educational and social settings. Finally, we conclude by reflecting on the value of the concept of elite multilingualism as a social practice, and argue for the importance of examining the lived experience of multilinguals on the ground.


Barakos, E., & Selleck, C. (2019). Elite multilingualism: Discourses, practices, and debates. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40(5), 361-374.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 17, 2019
Publication Date May 1, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jul 18, 2020
Journal Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Print ISSN 0143-4632
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 5
Pages 361-374
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development on 17th January 2019, available online:


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