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Engineering commodifiable workers: language, migration and the governmentality of the self

Del Percio, A; (2017) Engineering commodifiable workers: language, migration and the governmentality of the self. Language Policy 10.1007/s10993-017-9436-4. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article examines the strategies and forms of expertise on language and communication mobilized to engineer commodifiable migrant workers. Drawing on an ethnographic account of counselling practices in a state-run Italian job guidance centre for newly arrived migrants, I examine the calculations, tactics, and forms of expertise on language and communication mobilised by job counsellors. Here, I illustrate how these tactics regulate, or “police”, migrants’ communicational conduct and promote their socialisation into a desirable professional self that can be commodified on the Italian job market. In doing so, I demonstrate that the state’s investment in the policing of migrants and the commodifiability of their labour is an investment in a larger project of societal consent for both the arriving migrants and for the forms of precarity they are believed to embody in Italy. At the same time, I argue this state agenda should not make us blind to the fact that the individuals and actors, including professional counsellors, working in these job guidance centres seem ready to invest a great deal into these spaces in the interest of pursuing another, more emancipated agenda. Indeed, in my paper I aim to demonstrate that job guidance centres are also spaces of hope where people work to support migrants who are preparing themselves for a viable future and attempting to create the practical framework for their life projects.

Type: Article
Title: Engineering commodifiable workers: language, migration and the governmentality of the self
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10993-017-9436-4
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10993-017-9436-4
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Language, Migration, Work, Commodification, Governmentality, Italy
UCL classification: UCL > School of Education
UCL > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1563750
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