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Accent modification and workplace accentism: the institutionalization of linguistic profiling and its career implications

Vijay A. Ramjattan (International Foundation Program, New College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 14 March 2024

108

Abstract

Purpose

This paper argues that accent modification acts as a mechanism that (re)produces workplace accentism, which is a set of ideologies and practices positioning some English accents as inherently superior/inferior to others in the context of work and careers.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper draws on existing literature mainly from critical sociolinguistic and labor studies to support its central argument.

Findings

Through acting as a skill, a technology and a commodified service, accent modification naturalizes linguistic hierarchies, which are racist, classist and colonial constructions, and reinforces the structural status quo in different contexts.

Practical implications

In order to move away from accent modification as a means to enhance oral communication at work, organizational attempts at fostering mutual intelligibility and undoing the role of accent in workplace communication are necessary.

Originality/value

Contrary to research that presents accentism as a purely interpersonal issue, the paper explores how accentism is institutionalized and is connected to linguistic profiling.

Keywords

Citation

Ramjattan, V.A. (2024), "Accent modification and workplace accentism: the institutionalization of linguistic profiling and its career implications", Career Development International, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-05-2023-0146

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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