Title

Coalitions and Language Politics: Policy Shifts in Southeast Asia

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

Why is it that some governments recognize only one language while others espouse multilingualism? Related, why are some governments able to shift language policies, and if there is a shift, what explains the direction? In this article, the authors argue that these choices are theproduct of coalitional constraints facing the government during critical junctures in history. During times of political change in the state-building process, the effective threat of an alternate linguistic group determines the emergent language policy. If the threat is low, the government moves toward monolingual policies. As the threat increases, however, the government is forced to co-opt the alternate linguistic group by shifting the policy toward a greater degree of multilingualism. The authors test this argument by examining the language policies for government services and the education system in three Southeast Asian countries (Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand).

Keywords

Language policy, social policy, nation building, education and state, multilingualism, South east Asia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore

Discipline

Asian Studies | Education Policy | Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

World Politics

Volume

64

Issue

3

First Page

476

Last Page

506

ISSN

0043-8871

Identifier

10.1017/S004388711200010X

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S004388711200010X

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