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The language division of labour across occupations: an introduction

  • Amado Alarcón Alarcón EMAIL logo


This special issue contributes to understanding the role of language division of labour across occupations. The articles contribute to sociological understanding and critical dialogue with a human capital perspective in the context of the information society, where language has a central role in production processes. Since information as raw material and product is linguistically encoded, language occupies a central role in new forms of division of labour. The main question in this introduction and subsequent articles is to what extent social changes of information centrality at the production level reproduce or create new social inequalities observable through the lens of language division of labour within occupations. Although progress has been made in knowledge about competencies in the information and digital environment, little is known about specific linguistic needs across occupational classifications. Given the widespread use of alphabetization, literacy is today taken as a sine qua non for entering labour markets, instead of a stratifier across occupations and social structure. Nevertheless, in this special issue authors show that language of origin, second-language knowledge, and other literacies, such as communicative skills, become key stratifier factors. This is observable at the territorial level, types of literacies, as well as in specific and sophisticated language professions.

Corresponding author: Amado Alarcón Alarcón, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain, E-mail:

Funding source: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad

Award Identifier / Grant number: CSO2015-24247-P

  1. Research funding: The research has been funded by Ministerio de Economía y Competitivida (Grant no. CSO2015-24247-P).


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Received: 2021-03-23
Accepted: 2021-03-29
Published Online: 2021-05-28
Published in Print: 2021-07-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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