Why Multilingualism and Multilingual Communication Jeopardize a Common Social Policy for Europe

Open access


This paper studies the consequences of European multilingualism and multilingual communication for a common social policy in the Europe Union. In the past fifty years, the main focus of the Europeanization project has been on financial-economic developments and less on a common social policy. Even today, there is no common framework for social protection in the European Union. Common minimum income or wages for European citizens are lacking. In this paper, it will be argued that the lack of social protection has to do with Europe’s linguistic diversity. Language is seen as a building block of national communities and their political cultures. The European integration project can only continue if different European political cultures are shared. However, due to the fact that a neutral lingua franca is lacking, this has been unsuccessful so far. The interaction of social groups that have a different language repertoire with the structures of multilevel governance are responsible for the fact that some of these social groups, including the ‘Eurostars’, and national cosmopolitans benefit from social protection, whereas other groups lacking relevant language skills, such as anti-establishment forces, commoners, and migrants, are excluded from the European power domains. These power configurations can be fruitfully studied in the floral figuration model. Consequently, due to these patterns of inclusion and exclusion, true solidarity among European citizens is not within reach. These claims will be illustrated by a case study on the Netherlands, a country that has been pursuing neoliberal policies counterbalancing Eurozone and economic crises and is trying to assimilate migrants and other newcomers. Apart from assimilatory policies targeting migrants, language games used by competing forces are playing an important role in the discourse in order to set up power structures.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • ANDERSON Karen M. 2015. Social Policy in the European Union. Palgrave London.

  • BARBIER Jean-Claude. 2013. The Road to Social Europe: A Contemporary Approach to Political Cultures and Diversity in Europe. Routledge London–New York.

  • BARBIER Jean-Claude. 2014. The Myth of English Language Competence in Europe and Some of Its Consequences. Paper presented at the Symposium Economics Linguistic Justice and Language Policy. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 2–3 March 2015.

  • BOURDIEU Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Polity Press Cambridge.

  • BOVENS Mark et al. (eds). 2014. Gescheiden werelden? Een verkenning van sociaal-culturele tegenstellingen in Nederland. Den Haag Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau en Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid.

  • CASTELLS Manuel. 2013. Communication Power. Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • CASTELLS Manuel. 2014. The Power of Identity. Second Edition with a New Preface. Wiley-Blackwell Oxford.

  • CRUL Maurice–DOOMERNIK Jeroen. 2003. The Turkish and Moroccan Second Generation in the Netherlands: Divergent Trends between and Polarization within the Two Groups. In: International Migration Review 37(4): 1039–1064.

  • DE BRUIJN Hans. 2010. Geert Wilders in debat. Over de framing en reframing van een politieke boodschap. Boom Lemma Uitgevers Den Haag.

  • DE SWAAN Abram. 1988. Care of the State: Health Care Education and Welfare in Europe and the USA in the Modern Era. Oxford University Press New York. 2001. Words of the World: The Global System. Polity Press Cambridge.

  • EDWARDS John. 2012. Multilingualism. Understanding Linguistic Diversity. Continuum London.

  • ESPING-ANDERSEN Gosta. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Polity Press Cambridge.

  • FAVELL Adrian. 2008. Eurostars and Eurocities: Free Movement and Mobility in an Integrating Europe. Blackwell Publishing Oxford.

  • FERRERA Maurizio. 2005. The Boundaries of Welfare European Integration and the New Spatial Politics of Social Protection. Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • FLIGSTEIN Neil. 2008. Euro-Clash the EU European Identity and the Future of Europe. Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • GAZZOLA Michele. 2014. Multilingualism for Effective Communication. An Evaluation of the European Commission’s de facto Language Policy. Paper presented at the conference Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning 4–6 September 2014 University of Calgary.

  • GHORASHI Halleh–VAN TILBURG Maria. 2006. When Is My Dutch Good Enough? Experiences of Refugee Women with Dutch Labour Organizations. In: JIMI/RIMI 7(1) Winter/hiver 51–70.

  • GRIN François. 2014. Fashionable Sociolinguistic Constructs: Some Implications for Politics and Policy. Paper presented at the RECODE Workshop The Politics of Multilingualism: Linguistic Governance Globalisation and Europeanization 19–20 June 2014 University of Geneva.

  • HASELHUBER Jacob. 2012. Mehrsprachigkeit in der Europäischen Union: eine Analyse der EU-Sprachenpolitik mit besonderem Fokus auf Deutschland. Peter Lang Frankfurt am Main.

  • HOOGHE Liesbet–MARKS Gary. 2001. Multi-Level Governance and European Integration. Rowman and Littlefield Oxford.

  • HÜLMBAUER Cornelia–BÖHRINGER Heike–SEIDLHOFER Barbara. 2008. Introducing English as a Lingua Franca (ELF): Precursor and Partner in Intercultural Communication. In: Synergies Europe 3: 25–36.

  • JEENE Marjolein–Van OORSCHOT Wim–UUNK Wilfre. 2014. The Dynamics of Welfare Opinions in Changing Economic Institutional and Political Contexts: an Empirical Analysis of Dutch Deservingness Opinions 1975–2006. In: Social Indicators Research.

  • KUITENBROUWER Ja. 2010. De woorden van Wilders en hoe ze werken. De Bezige Bij Amsterdam.

  • KOOPMANS Ruu. 2015. Does Assimilation Work? Socio-Cultural Determinants of Labor Market Participation of European Muslims. Unpublished Manuscript Humboldt University Berlin.

  • KUUS Merje. 2014. Geopolitics and Expertise. Knowledge and Authority in European Diplomacy. Wiley Blackwell Oxford.

  • LABRIE Norman. 1994. La construction linguistique de la Communauté Européenne. Champion Paris.

  • MAIER Michae. 2014. Die Plünderung der Welt Wie die Finanz-Eliten unsere Enteignung planen. Finanzbuch Verlag Munich.

  • MARÁCZ László–ROSELLO Mireille (eds). 2012. Multilingual Europe Multilingual Europeans. Rodopi Amsterdam–New York.

  • McCORMICK John. 2015. European Union Politics. Palgrave MacMillan Basingstoke.

  • PHILLIPSON Robert. 2006. English-Only Europe? Challenging Language Policy. Routledge London.

  • PHILLIPSON Robert.2009. Linguistic Imperialism Continued. Routledge New York.

  • POOL Jonathan–GROFMAN Bernard. 1984. Language as Political Control: Newspeak Revisited. Paper Prepared for the 1984 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Washington D.C. 30 August–2 September 1984.

  • RICENTO Thomas (ed.). 2015. Language Policy and Political Economy: English in a Global Context. Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • ROTHSTEIN Bo. 1998. Just Institutions Matter: the Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare State. Cambridge University Press Cambridge.

  • SCHARPF Fritz W. 2010. The Asymmetry of European Integration or Why the EU Cannot Be a Social Market Economy. Socio-Economic Review 8(2): 211–250.

  • VAN MEURS Wim–DE BRUIN Robin–HOETINK Carla–VAN LEEUWEN Karin–REIJNEN Carlos–VAN DE GRIFT Liesbeth. 2013. Europa in alle staten. Zestig jaar geschiedenis van de Europese integratie. Uitgeverij Vantilt Nijmegen.

  • VAN MIDDELAAR Luuk. 2013. The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union. Yale University Press New Haven–London.

  • VAN PARIJS Philippe. 2011. Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World. Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • WALLACE Helen–POLLACK Mark A.–YOUNG Alasdair R. 2015. Policy-Making in the European Union. Oxford University Press Oxford.

  • WANG Cong–STEINER Bodo. 2015. Can Ethno-Linguistic Diversity Explain Cross-Country Differences in Social Capital? A Global Perspective. Economic Record 91(294): 338–366.

  • DE BRUIJN Hans. 2012. Januskop van Rutte past ons allemaal. In: Trouw 6 July.

  • Dossier Wilders. 2010. Uitspraken van de meest besproken Nederlandse Politicus van deze eeuw. Onder redactie van Chris Willemsen. Uitgeverij House of Knowledge.

  • Eerste Kamer der Staten-General. 19 mei 2004 Afschaffing OALT gaat door. https://www.eerstekamer.ml/nieuws/20040519/afschaffing_oalt_gaat_door. Accessed on: 22 June 2015.

  • European Commission. June 2012. Special Eurobarometer 386. Europeans and Their Languages. European Court of Auditors Secretariat General Translation Directorate.

  • European Commission. September 2013. Misused English Words and Expressions in EU publications. Brussels – http://ec.europa.eu/translation/english/guidelines/documents/misused_english_terminology_eu_publications_en.pdf. Accessed on: 18 February 2015.

  • JUNCKER Jean-Claude. 27 December 2014. Nederlandse partijen te populistisch. NOS Teletekst. nos.nl/artikel/2010729-juncker-nederlandse-partijen-te-populistisch.html.

  • JUNCKER Jean-Claude. 22 November 2012 Rutte met ‘pistool op zak’ bij EU-onderhandelingen RTL nieuws. http://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nieuws/rutte-met-pistool-op-zak-bij-eu-onderhandelingen. Accessed on: 25 February 2015.

  • JUNCKER Jean-Claude. 14 October 2013 Rutte: participatie geen bezuiniging NOS teletekst. nos.nl/artikel/562390-rutte-participatie-geen-bezuiniging. Accessed on: 25 February 2015.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 695 275 9
PDF Downloads 246 106 5