Language management: a snapshot of governmentality within the private schools in Quetta, Pakistan

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Pakistan is a multilingual and multiethnic country; however, this diversity stands unrecognized in the formal language-in-education policies. Estimates
suggest that about 90 % of children who speak over 60 indigenous languages
do not have access to education in their mother tongues. Linguists estimate that
exclusive teaching of Urdu and English subjects the indigenous languages to
physical endangerment as well as negative perceived vitality. This study investigated the language management techniques, practices and discourses of the school authorities about indigenous languages and linguistic diversity, and its effects on perceptions of the students. The study used the theoretical framework of governmentality as introduced by Foucault in The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality with two lectures by and an interview with Michael Foucault, Harvester Wheatsheaf, London, (1991), which not only focuses on the direct acts of the governing of the state apparatuses, but also addresses the indirect acts of governance that shape individual behaviors. Deploying a mixed methodology that used students of high secondary level, teachers and school principals as sampling in 11 low-fee English-medium private schools in Quetta, Pakistan, the findings suggest that school authorities exercise stringent techniques such as notices, wall paintings, penalties and occasional punishment to suppress the use of languages other than Urdu or English. Mostly, the students also show compliance to the top-down policies. Most of participants perceive indigenous languages as worthless because of their lesser role in professional development and social mobility. The study concludes that the governance methods displace the indigenous languages both physically as well as perceptually. The prevailing orientations look upon languages as commodities, profoundly downgrading the cultural, literary, aesthetic and sociolinguistic dynamics of the indigenous languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-26
JournalLanguage Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Governmentality Language management English Urdu Indigenous languages Pakistan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language

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