Blommaert vs Fairclough. Not global, but Local criteria and norms define the processes of change

Language in Society 40 (2011) doi:10.1017/S0047404511000492

JAN BLOMMAERT, The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xvi, 213.

Reviewed by HAILONG TIAN

To develop his sociolinguistics of globalization, Blommaert critically reviews three books on the topic from the field of language study (14–20), including Language and globalization (Fairclough 2006), which has received criticism (e. g. Blommaert 2008, Shi-xu 2009) as well as positive comments (e.g. Tian 2010). In the 2008 review and in this book, Blommeart was not happy with Fairclough’s work on globalism (which Fairclough defines as the dominant discourse in the process of globalization) and on the spatial dimension of globalization. His critical review, so to speak, forms the basis for his development of the historical dimension of globalization in this book. But I do see some coincidence between Blommaert’s and Fairclough’s works, and Blommaert himself (2008) noticed an exception to what he criticizes in his above mentioned review, namely, Fairclough’s discussion of “globalization from below.” We can see, for example, when “grassroots literacy becomes not only a practical code, a code for expression, but also an evaluative and hence normative code” (94) in Bloomaert’s case of learning English in a township school in South Africa. In Fairclough’s analysis of Romanian higher-education reform, it is by virtue of successful strategies of “internal” social agencies and agents in Romania that “external entities” like EU neo-liberal discourse are recontextualized, relocated and appropriated and then “carried” into the new scale of Romanian higher education (see Tian 2010). Different as the vocabularies and technical terms are, the point highlighted by both Fairclough and Blommaert is that there is, in Blommaert’s words, “an influence from the global and, to be sure, places do change, but the local is quite resilient as well and local criteria and norms define the processes of change” (23)

REFERENCES Blommaert, Jan (2008). Review of Norman Fairclough, Language and globalization. Discourse and Society 19:257–62. Fairclough, Norman (2006). Language and globalization. London: Routledge. Shi-xu (2009). Review of Norman Fairclough, Language and globalization. Language in Society 38:365–69. Tian, Hailong (2010). Review of Norman Fairclough, Language and globalization. Contemporary Linguistics 12:68–70.

Leave a Comment