Zotzmann, Karin and Hernández-Zamora, Gregorio
Beyond the ‘cultural turn’: the politics of recognition versus the politics redistribution in the field of intercultural communication
Language Learning Journal, 1, .
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Since the 1980s the field of language teaching and learning has emphasized the interplay between language, culture and identity and promotes, both communicative and intercultural competencies. This mirrors a general trend in the social sciences after the so-called cultural turn which brought about a concentration on culture, identity and voice (the politics of recognition) at the expense of socio-economic structures and relations (the politics of redistribution). This article argues that despite this marginalization, socio-economic and hence class issues still impact crucially upon the amount and quality of recognition people receive from others and should therefore be brought again to the forefront of theoretical discussions. This seems ever more important in the current neoliberal socio-economic restructuring in all spheres of life that deepens inequality and thus impacts upon the conditions under which people meet and communicate with each other. This article analyzes the characteristics and consequences of the cultural turn that brought about this unhelpful divide between the politics of recognition and the politics of redistribution and then proposes an alternative theoretical framework that combines a Critical Realist ontology with Bourdieu’s notion of habitus and field. Such a framework, it is suggested, would shed a more realistic light on intercultural communication and could help to connect language teaching and learning with questions of social justice, and thus enhance empathy, understanding and criticality in students.
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