New Times in the Faroe Islands, New Speakers of Faroese and the Sociolinguistics of Labour Market Inclusion
: Challenges and Opportunities

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis presents a critical sociolinguistic ethnography of the role of language in gaining access to resources and how new speakers can be delegitimated as part of that process. It focuses on newcomers to the Faroe Islands and the situated ways in which the Faroese and Danish languages are linked to career advancement, labour market mobility and processes of inclusion and exclusion. The ethnographic research focuses on migrants of non-Nordic origin working in fish-processing and cleaning. The research includes participant observation in fish factories, interviews with 29 participants and follow-up interviews with focal participants. These data are analysed drawing on recent theory-building in New Speaker studies (e.g. O’Rourke et al. 2019), research into global mobilities, labour migration and linguistic inequalities (e.g. Duchêne et al. 2013), and a new framework for research into investment in language learning (Darvin & Norton 2015). The thesis makes a distinctive contribution to the sociolinguistics of the periphery (e.g. Pietikäinen et al. 2016), revealing specific challenges involved in acquiring small languages in a bilingual context; the conditions for learning Faroese, the limited language learning opportunities in blue-collar workplaces, the barriers for newcomers in finding jobs commensurate with their qualifications, and the role of language ideologies in this respect.
Date of Award21 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Heriot-Watt University
SupervisorBernadette O'Rourke (Supervisor) & Mike Danson (Supervisor)


  • Language learning
  • language education
  • critical sociolinguistics
  • multilingualism in the periphery
  • ethnography
  • labour market inclusion
  • linguistic diversity
  • migration
  • social justice

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