The profit of flexibilization: the management of the linguistic resources of Swiss health care workers

Lorente, Beatriz; Muth, S. (July 2017). The profit of flexibilization: the management of the linguistic resources of Swiss health care workers (Submitted). In: 15th International Pragmatics Conference. Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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Mobility is considered to be a central force that is shaping the global healthcare economy. In this service-based economy, the mobility of various healthcare workers is paralleled by the mobility of different patients ranging from medical tourists to medical refugees to migrants. These movements of workers and patients raise new questions about the management of linguistic resources in the current political economy. Using ethnographic data from an ongoing study of the Swiss healthcare industry, this paper examines how a clinic at a hospital in German-speaking Switzerland mobilizes the linguistic resources of the different workers at the clinic, namely, the doctors, technicians, receptions and secretaries. The paper also unpacks the discourses about language in general, and the role of language in medical care in particular, that are employed in order to legitimize and profit from this mobilization. In particular, this paper analyzes how recent flows of French-speaking patients have reshuffled sociolinguistic hierarchies resulting in changes in the job responsibilities of workers and reconfigured in how the language part of their work is defined. The paper argues that this flexibilization of the linguistic resources of the workers is employed as a means of meeting the constantly changing and increasingly unpredictable demands of the linguistic market, while at the same time allowing the clinic to distinguish itself from the competition. The flexibilization of workers’ linguistic resources appears to be a source of profit for the institution (in this case, the clinic) but is not necessarily a source of profit for the workers themselves (Heller and Duchene 2016).

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Lorente, Beatriz

Subjects:

800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages
400 Language > 410 Linguistics

Language:

English

Submitter:

Beatriz Lorente

Date Deposited:

10 Apr 2018 08:25

Last Modified:

10 Apr 2018 08:25

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/107759

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