Drawing on the concept of representative bureaucracy, this article examines how two multilingual states – Canada and Switzerland – deal with issues related to the participation of different linguistic communities in the federal public service. Following a political mobilization of the linguistic cleavage, strategies to promote multilingualism in the public service have been adopted in both countries. The Canadian strategy focuses on equal treatment of Anglophones and Francophones in the public service. In Switzerland, adequate representation of the linguistic communities is the primary goal. These differences are explained by the characteristics of the linguistic regimes in each of the two countries as well as by the peculiarities of consociational democracy in Switzerland. In both countries, the linguistic origins of public administration staff, overall, mirrors the proportions of the linguistic communities in the wider society. Within administrative units, however, linguistic diversity is hampered by the logics of language rationalization, where minorities are under pressure to communicate in the language of the majority.
©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston