Englishization, identity regulation and imperialism

Mehdi Boussebaa, Andrew D. Brown

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What are the power/identity implications of the increasing Englishization of non-Anglophone workplaces around the world? We address this question using an analytical framework that combines a focus on micro/meso-level processes of identity regulation with attentiveness to the macro-level discourse of English as a global language. Drawing on reflexive fieldwork conducted at a major French university, we show how Englishization is bound-up with processes of normalization, surveillance and conformist identity work that serve to discipline local selves in line with the imperative of international competitiveness. Concomitantly, we also show that Englishization is not a totalizing form of identity regulation; it is contested, complained about and appropriated in the creative identity work of those subject to it. Yet, moving from the micro/meso- to the macro-level, we argue that organizational Englishization is, ultimately, ‘remaking’ locals as Anglophones through a quasi-voluntary process of imperialism in the context of a US-dominated era of ‘globalization’ and ‘global English’. We discuss the theoretical implications of these insights and open some avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-29
Number of pages23
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Sustainability
  • disciplinary power
  • Englishization
  • globalization
  • identity regulation
  • identity work
  • imperialism


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