Language Ideologies and Multilingual Practices in a Health Care Clinic in Barcelona

Melissa Greer Moyer

Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona, Spain

WS166: Language Use, Interaction and Representations of Health in Urban Contexts of Immigrant Health Provision

The present paper aims to explore how the arrival of new immigrant populations to Catalonia is challenging patterns of language choice and forms of communication in a primary health care clinic. The goal is to examine what new forms of multilingualism emerge but also how they respond and are defined by institutional ideologies and conceptions about the language practices of immigrant populations; the general nature of communication and meaning making processes; and decisions about what information should get communicated to clients and in what ways. All this comes into sharper focus when we approach actorsí processes of meaning making from a multi-semiotic perspective, and this is specially the case in institutional sites where multilingualism is present. A critical perspective is adopted in this paper by arguing that access to semiotic sources is restricted and controlled by the institutions and that hierarchies of value get set up between different modes and languages in the health care site. In particular, this study focuses on the way power is constructed through the use of language and other modes. Ethnographic fieldwork was carried out at the health care site over a three-year period (2001-2003). The contexts investigated include: (1) a pediatriciansí practice, (2) two family doctor practices, and (3) the patientsí service office. In addition, observations from extensive day-to-day contact with practicing nurses, two social workers, and a woman who was a cultural mediator from Pakistan have also provided important information. Transcribed recorded interactions, field-notes, observational data, interviews and documents are the data used to support the analysis presented.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
Language Use, Interaction and Representations of Health in Urban Contexts of Immigrant Health Provision
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 07