Multilingualism and cultural difference can be a challenge, and it can be a resource. Language, including all its differences and diversity, is the most important tool for us to function in social life, to exchange information, goods, and services, to guarantee economic success, and to negotiate identities.
The project “Linguistic and Cultural Diversity at Work” investigates the role of multilingualism and cultural diversity in workplace contexts. Here, it focuses on the highly dynamic situation in Northern Norway, where economic development meets an evolving linguistic and cultural diversity: The exploitation of natural resources promises profit and new jobs. Climate change will facilitate transportation and increase the importance of the region in global communication. The linguistic and cultural diversity is also changing. As a consequence of global migration, people from various cultures have moved to the region. At the same time, the indigenous and national minorities (the Sámi and Kven people) are in a process of cultural and linguistic emancipation and extending their domains of language use.
“Linguistic and Cultural Diversity at Work” builds on the fields of Sociolinguistics and Pragmatics. In an interdisciplinary approach, it will shed light on the impact of this evolving diversity on the everyday practices in various workplaces. The project investigates how companies and individual employees with diverse cultural backgrounds use their linguistic resources to accomplish their work, to establish relations, and to construe and negotiate their cultural identities. Workplace interaction also involves local, regional, and international partners.
A major question to be discussed by the project is whether, and how, multilingualism and cultural diversity can be used as a valuable resource in workplace contexts, and how companies, employees, and policy makers can handle the challenges of linguistic difference and multicultural development practically.