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A network model of language policy and planning: The United Nations as a case study

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This article contributes to recent critical discussion of ‘agency’ in language policy and planning (LPP) research and practice. It argues that whilst scholars have widened their purview to consider the impact of individual actors on LPP in different contexts, the field has not developed or embraced theoretical and methodological frameworks which satisfactorily model or investigate the network of actor impact on LPP. This article analyzes the current status of LPP at the United Nations (UN). Taking the ‘Actor-Stage Model’ (Zhao & Baldauf, 2012) as a theoretical point of departure, the article discusses and analyzes the most recent review of LPP within the UN. It becomes apparent that a network of agents is responsible for LPP development, influence and implementation within the organization. This ‘web of influence’ is schematized using a network model which accounts for the implicit and explicit responsibility of multiple actors / ‘experts’ within and outside of the organization. A sub-analysis of institutional LPP goals reveals the ‘polycentric’ and ‘relational’ nature of influence within and across multiple ‘nodes’. It is argued that the network model and the concept of ‘web of influence’ is crucial in de- and re-constructing particular LPP goals and serves as a useful heuristic for those investigating or working within similar sites of inter/transnational integration as well as LPP in other macro, meso or micro-contexts.
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Keywords: United Nations; agency; language planning; language policy; network model; network theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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