Social Reproduction as Language Policy: The Neoliberal Co-option of English in Global Japan

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In Japan, neoliberal discourses rationalize English language proficiency as a pathway to meritocratic reward and success in the global knowledge economy. With this ideology in mind, this review engages the market orientation of English domestically and the causative implications of class-distinguished capital. Specifically, Bourdieu’s theory of social reproduction is employed to foster comprehension of Japanese foreign language policies in which English substantiates itself as a valuable source of cultural investment. Notwithstanding the supposedly meritocratic intention of the Japanese state, this study concludes that credentialism, hierarchization, and marketization function in concert with a survival of the fittest corollary that, per globalized ideological-discursive assumptions, constrains agency through the justification of ELL as a vocational and civic moral worth. This conflation of internationalization and Englishization is better understood as an instrument of dominance, with the agency to participate in ELL interlocking with an incontrovertible doxa that rationalizes the economic, social, and political hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalEducational Policy
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2021


  • Bourdieu
  • globalization
  • Japan
  • neoliberalism
  • social reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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