Subaltern Agency and Language Education Policy: Implementing a language policy for on the ground

Muiris Ó Laoire, Clare Rigg, Vasiliki Georgiou

language policy, agency, subaltern agency, policy implementation in education


The focus in this paper is on the implementation of language policy in education. It explores and discusses the notion of subaltern agency in an education organization. Recent language policy research highlights individual and collective agency in the processes of language use, attitudes and policies. People on the ground, charged with implementation are not the passive receivers of policies or the vague resistors once depicted in research accounts, referring to public body practitioners, but social actors who can exercise subaltern agency. The aim is to show that language policies are not merely implemented, but are actually shaped on the ground. Examples of subaltern agency from a case study of the Official Languages Act Ireland (2003) are explored.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies