Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education


In linguistically heterogeneous societies, language planning constitutes core institutional practice for maintaining social cohesion as well as unique cultural identities. This critical sociolinguistic and comparative analysis examines education language policy process in India, Nigeria and UNESCO to understand the entrenchment of marginalizational language policies in spite of recent paradigm shifts in relevant scholarship. These include the shift from monolingualism to multilingualism as ideal for individuals and societies, perception of multilingualism no longer as a problem but a resource, heightened interrogation of ideological and political dimensionalities of language decisions in society, and an intensification of commitment to language policy and planning through international consensuses and programmatic initiatives often associated with UNESCO.

While previous studies emphasize official state action and view language policy as "finishable" text, this dissertation research uses multi-site, cross-national ethnographic data from government and non-government entities to demonstrate that education language policy is fundamentally an ongoing dynamic process that draws various players with unequal bargaining power into constant negotiations of social identity and reconfigurations of the politics of social control. It illustrates the often muted historical provenience of current language policy issues in multilingual societies. In addition, by noting that language policies in India and Nigeria are simultaneously stymied and constantly changing, this research shows that education language policy in multilingual societies defies any unitary theoretical categorization, partly due to the complexities, dilemmas and paradoxes associates with the

various issues it entails. Further, it argues that understanding education language policy in multilingual societies requires multiple shifting theoretical lenses that map onto the actual policy processes. Two broad theories - hegemony and mutual interactionism - used here as heuristics for explicating education language policy processes highlight this need for an integrative and flexible conceptual mapping of language policymaking in multilingual societies.

Underlying this simultaneous stagnation and change are strong networks of various policy agents with a corresponding tendency toward disjuncture and decoupling. The same (national and international) institutional structures that propel policy consensuses through networks also provide mechanisms for disjuncture and decoupling. To make sense of this structural paradox, I propose a recalibration of major concepts, and an expansion of the conceptual boundaries, of education language policy studies beyond the current state-centered approach. Doing this helps dispel several popular misconceptions about language policy in multilingual societies, especially those pertaining to political sensitivity, resource limitation, and power constraints, and also paves way for re-imagining formal education for the future.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.