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'Below English Line': An ethnographic exploration of class and the English language in post-liberalization India

Jayadeva, S; (2018) 'Below English Line': An ethnographic exploration of class and the English language in post-liberalization India. Modern Asian Studies , 52 (2) pp. 576-608. 10.1017/S0026749X16000639. Green open access

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Abstract

Anthropological studies of India's post-liberalization middle classes have tended to focus mainly on the role of consumption behaviour in the constitution of this class group. Building on these studies, and taking class as an object of ethnographic enquiry, I argue that, over the last 20 years, class dynamics in the country have been significantly altered by the unprecedentedly important and complex role that the English language has come to play in the production and reproduction of class. Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork—conducted at commercial spoken-English training centres, schools, and corporate organizations in Bangalore—I analyse the processes by which this change in class dynamics has occurred, and how it is experienced on the ground. I demonstrate how, apart from being a valuable type of class cultural capital in its own right, proficiency in English has come to play a key role in the acquisition and performance of other important forms of capital associated with middle-class identity. As a result, being able to demonstrate proficiency in English has come to be experienced as a critical element in claiming and maintaining a space in the middle class, regardless of the other types of class cultural capital a person possesses.

Type: Article
Title: 'Below English Line': An ethnographic exploration of class and the English language in post-liberalization India
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X16000639
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0026749X16000639
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081248
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