Transnational Spaces and Linguistic Capital

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Julia SCHROEDTER, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Joerg ROESSEL, University of Zurich, Switzerland
The ongoing transnationalization of societies has changed the social conditions of migrants and non-migrants alike. For both groups research demonstrates the existence of social relations and exchanges beyond the country of residence. However, for migrants, there is an ongoing debate about the relationship between processes of integration and especially acculturation into host societies and the maintenance of networks into home countries. It has even been assumed that transnational relations undermine the integration into host societies. In contrast, in empirical research about non-migrants the prevalence of transnational social relations and exchanges was usually discussed as a form of transnational social and cultural capital, attributed to elites or higher classes, enabling them to profit from the processes of transnationalization and Europeanization.

In our paper we want to test both assumptions with respect to linguistic capital, as one form of transnational cultural capital, in Switzerland. On the one hand we study the determinants of linguistic capital in general (languages spoken) and on the other hand of Swiss-specific linguistic capital. Thus, we capture on the one hand the acculturation of migrants in Switzerland and on the other we are able to study language proficiency as an indicator of transnational linguistic capital, which is often attributed to upper-middle class and elite persons. We mainly focus on different transnational relations and experiences as determinants of linguistic proficiency. Our main assumption with respect to Swiss-specific capital is, that relations to countries were national languages of Switzerland are spoken, should increase linguistic capital, relations to other countries should have a negative effect on linguistic proficiency. Thereby, we are able to test if and which transnational networks and experiences (a) have a negative effect on migrants’ linguistic acculturation in their host country (Swiss-specific linguistic capital) and (b) have a positive effect on transnational linguistic capital in general.