Integration or Assimilation? A Comparative Intertextual Analysis of Language Policy in Madrid and Catalonia

Farah Ali, Carol Ready


Language policy forms an integral part of constructing, upholding, and contesting the status and social space of languages. Such policies may perpetuate social inequalities between speakers of different languages in multilingual societies (Tollefson, 1991; Van Dijk, 1993; Escobar Alméciga, 2013; Ready, 2018). Policies that typically address society as a whole may also reference language use of migrant populations. The current study analyzes integration policies in Spain at the federal and regional levels in the autonomous communities of Madrid and Catalonia, and examines how these policies shape and characterize the role of language practices as they relate to immigrants’ participation in Spanish society. Drawing on Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1989), this study relies on intratextual and intertextual analyses to examine how discourse is produced and reproduced throughout national policy in comparison to policies of two of Spain’s most populated autonomous communities with large immigrant populations. Findings indicate that – for both communities – integration through language education is considered a crucial aspect for active citizenship and maintaining social cohesion. However, while language education in Madrid refers to developing proficiency in Spanish, Catalan is central to Catalonia’s language policies. In both cases, however, lack of competence in these languages is considered a major obstacle to integration and thus, social cohesion. Additionally, while migrant languages and cultures are emphasized as being important to interculturality and are referenced as having a role in integration, policies often fall short in their support for immigrant languages.

Cite as: Ali & Ready, JLL 10 (2021), 24–47, DOI: 10.14762/jll.2021.024


language policy; intertextual analysis; critical discourse analysis; Spain; integration

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