Marketing university students as mobile multilingual workers: the emergence of neoliberal lifestylers
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Under the conditions of the globalized new economy, European universities have become profit-making institutions. They envision students as mobile workers-to-be whose employability chances depend on self-enterprising and on self-responsibilization for foreign-language command, and they now compete in the educational marketplace by targeting them with an increased offer of internationalized English-mediated 'multilingual' degrees. This paper explores attitudes towards these marketed/marketable studenthood identities by 30 Catalan/Spanish-speaking students enrolled in four Multilingual Studies degrees in Barcelona. The data include students' audio-recorded life-narrative interviews and online 'life-after-graduation' stories collected during a two-year ethnography (2011-2013). The results show that students engage in institutional neoliberal regimes which train them in the academic/professional, linguistic and personhood profiles required in global employment niches. They inhabit unique 'multilingualized' identities, with English as their professional/socialization lingua franca, and they self-attribute open-minded 'civic-citizenship' values, with an 'innate' capacity to engage with Otherness. They also invest in 'cosmopolitan' trajectories which blend ways of being, working and enjoying leisure in the transnational arena. This reveals how students position themselves in the precarious job marketplace, in autobiographic accounts of experience, which contributes to understanding youth identity projections as elite entrepreneurial lifestylers pointing to newer practices of socioeconomic competition, distinction and stratification at university
Is part ofInternational Journal of Multilingualism, 2019, vol. 17, núm. 1, p. 1-19
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