Working conditions of community interpreters in Sweden
The aim of this article is to describe and analyse the working conditions of interpreters and interpreting services in Sweden. An understanding of interpreters’ working conditions is a key to such factors as the management of resources, the reading and implementation of legislation, the organisation of interpreting services and the performance of interpreters in different situations. An understanding of interpreters’ working conditions is also important in understanding how multiculturalism and multilingualism are viewed on a national scale in Sweden. This review of the working conditions of interpreters is based on material from two joint research projects, which appear to indicate that interpreters as a group have much to say and often reflect on their work and working conditions. The interpreters participating in this study often demonstrated a strong commitment to professionalism. At the same time, however, many of the reflections recorded for this study were about things that undermine professionalism: bad working conditions, low pay, the feeling of being “as replaceable as potatoes”, and the feeling that the social status of interpreters is low. In analysing the consequences of working conditions we have found a tension between professionalism and deprofessionalisation. This tension has consequences for the rule of law and integration.
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