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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

3 - Alienation, Language Work, and the So-Called Commodification of Language

from Part I - Theoretical Orientations


Contemporarily, economies are increasingly knowledge and service based, certainly in Canada and the United States. These services always implicate the necessity of language, and this is especially true in language-based service such as the work in call centers. This has led to the claim that language has been "commodified." This chapter examines the notion of the commodification of language. The argument is that if language and language practices must be analyzed through the language of commodification, then it is more productive to understand language as a fictitious commodity: something that is not produced or that does not exist for consumption through the market. Ultimately, what is referred to as the commodification of language is actually the commodification of labor, which should direct our concerns toward exploitation and alienation, not commodification.

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