Language, nation and congregation : world-system and world-polity perspectives on language integration in South African churches

Venter, Dawid Johannes (1999-11)

Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1999.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study is a theoretical excursus in the political sociology of language which discusses how features of the world-polity and world-economy intersect in such a way within the current world system as to affect linguistic practices in the religious domain in South Africa. Language practice in congregations provide the empirical data for this discussion. Data was collected through a survey of 60 racially integrated and multilingual Christian congregations from nine denominations across South Africa. Levels of linguistic and racial integration were measured according to an integration index, which shows that racial integration of these congregations is far more advanced than linguistic integration. The dominance of English over indigenous languages became evident in all cases. This pattern is interpreted in terms of global institutional factors which support the dominance of English. The theory of John Meyer, John Boli, and colleagues forms the central analytical framework, in which global norms are perceived to create isomorphism across nation-states. These insights are combined with others from world-economy and globalization theories. Accordingly, formal and popular, global and local ideologies are seen to articulate with one other, so contributing to cultural and structural isomorphism across state and civil institutions. In particular I suggest that a language ideology which favours English operates among elites as well as among the general populace. Consequently English is regarded, globally as locally, as a language of access to employment, commerce and status. For this reason isomorphism between linguistic practices which devalues indigenous languages is visible between South Africa and other African nation-states. A similar isomorphism between linguistic ideology and practices also occurs between institutions within South Africa. The emerging hegemony of English in South Africa is connected to similar processes operating elsewhere, and so can be linked to features of the world system. The diffusion of core cultures, which accompanied the expansion of the world-economy, continues to occur through the adoption of global mass education and religious institutions by non-core states. Along with the dispersement of the Western model of the nation-state came the increasing importance of having a constitution as foundation stone. Language rights were instituted in constitutions as part of the globalization of human rights, as happened in South Africa. Compared to the previous constitution, the latter reflects the increasing integration of South Africa into the world polity and its global norms of equality. As globalization produces heterogeneity and homogeneity, the dominant trend towards linguistic homogeneity (English) is countered by a weaker option for inclusion of multilingualism (e.g. through accommodation of indigenous languages). In Africa this produces African-Western individuals, lending some support to the notion that globalization produces hybridization.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie is 'n teoretiese verkenning, vanuit die vertrekpunt van die politieke sosiologie van taal, van hoe aspekte van die wereld-politiese en wereld-ekonomiese bestel mekaar ontmoet binne die huidige wereldstelsel op so 'n wyse dat taalgebruik in die religieuse domein in Suid-Afrika indirek beinvloed word. Taalgebruik in gemeentes verskaf die empiriese data vir hierdie bespreking. Data is versa mel deur 'n opname van 60 rasgemengde en veeltalige gemeentes van nege denominasies landswyd. Vlakke van taal- en ras-integrasie is gemeet aan 'n integrasie-skaal, wat aantoon dat ras-integrasie binne sulke gemeentes meer gevorderd is as taal-integrasie. Die oorheersing deur Engels van inheemse tale is duidelik in al 60 gevalle. Hierdie patroon word vertolk na aanleiding van globale institusionele faktore wat die oorheersing van Engels ondersteun. Die teorie van John Meyer, John Boli en kollegas word in die studie gebruik as sentrale analitiese raamwerk wat daarop dui dat globale norme isomorfisme bewerkstellig tussen nasie-state. Hierdie insigte word by ander vanuit wereld-ekonomiese en globalisasie teoriee gevoeg. Daarvolgens kombineer formele en populere, globale en plaaslike ideologiee met mekaar om tot kulturele en strukturele isomorfisme tussen staats- en ander maatskaplike instellings by te dra. Meer spesifiek voer ek aan dat 'n taal-ideologie wat Engels bevoordeel onder lede van die elite asook onder die algemene bevolking ontstaan het. Gevolglik word Engels wereldwyd en plaaslik gesien as 'n taal wat toegang verleen tot werk, handelsgeleenthede en status. Dit veroorsaak dat isomorfisme in taalpraktyk tussen Suid-Afrika en ander Afrika-lande voorkom wat inheemse tale verontreg. 'n Soortgelyke isomorfisme tussen taal-ideologie en -praktyke kom ook voor tussen staats- en ander maatskaplike instellings binne Suid-Afrika. Die toenemende heerskappy van Engels in Suid-Afrika is gekoppel aan soortgelyke prosesse wat elders plaasvind, wat daarom beskou kan word as deel van sekere aspekte van die wereldstelsel. Die globale verspreiding van die kulture van dominante lande, wat saamgeval het met die uitbreiding van die wereld-ekonomie, word voortgesit deur die grootskaalse aanvaarding van globale massa-opvoeding en godsdienstige instellings deur nie-dominante lande. Soos die Westerse model van die nasie-staat versprei, neem die fundamentele belangrikheid van'n grondwet ook toe. Taalregte word in grondwette institusionaliseer as deel van die globale uitbreiding van menseregte, soos die geval is in Suid-Afrika. In vergelyking met die vorige grondwet reflekteer die huidige een die toenemende integrasie van Suid-Afrika binne die wereld-politiese bestel en tot die norme van gelykheid binne daardie bestel. Omdat globalisasie beide verskeidenheid en eenvormigheid aanmoedig, word die heersende tendens na eentaligheid (Engels) teengewerk deur'n swakker opsie vir veeltaligheid (bv. deur aanvaarding van inheemse tale). In Afrika is die gevolg individue wat beide Westers en Afrikane is, wat 'n mate van steun verleen aan die idee dat globalisasie 'n vermenging van plaaslike en globale eienskappe bewerkstellig.

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