Language, integration, and investment: The regulation of diversity in the context of unemployment

Flubacher, Mi-Cha ; Coray, Renata ; Duchêne, Alexandre

In: Multilingua, 2016, vol. 35, no. 6, p. 675-696

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    Summary
    Drawing on an ethnography in regional employment offices in a French-German canton in Switzerland, it is the aim of this article to articulate the complexities involved in the practices revolving around and geared towards the role of language competences in the process of professional reintegration, particularly so with regards to migrants who speak a different language. When comparing two cases of unemployed migrant job seekers and the variable treatment by their respective consultants, we will discuss the logics, ideologies, and discourses underlying the institutional regulation of the diverse body of unemployed migrants. We argue that in particular two discourses emerged in our fieldwork that seem to frame the variable approaches: the discourse of integration and the discourse of investment. It is in the interplay, tension, and confluence of the two discourses where "language” appears as a specific point of contestation. In other words: the consideration of language competences as productive for someone's employability finally appears as highly variable and contingent on individual factors.