Journal of Sociolinguistics

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Volume 23 Issue 4 (September 2019), Pages i-iv, 329-431

English as a medium of instruction and the discursive construction of elite identity (pages 386-408)

Abstract Debates over medium of instruction, as ideological skirmishes, showcase discursive identity construction, reproduction, and contestation by different social groups. Drawing on such debates in letters to the editor and internet‐based newsgroup posts written by Bangladeshi English‐medium (EM) and Bangla‐medium (BM) educated writers, this article examines the construction of elite identity by the EM educated group. It illustrates how this group drew on changing discourses of elitism, language ideologies, and other identity resources to construct self‐identity that emphasized the achievement of qualifications and attributes rather than unearned social privilege, and how the territorially bound elite identity was transformed into deterritorialized cosmopolitan identity in the process. The article contributes to our understanding of the relationship between language, identity, and society by illustrating struggles for identity and status maintenance in education that is increasingly being dominated by English and English as a medium of instruction under the influence of neoliberal globalization. It also suggests how English and national languages may relate to (post)colonialism, nationalism, national identity, and social class in a globalized world.

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