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Modern languages in Scotland: Social capital out on a limb

Doughty, Hannah (2011) Modern languages in Scotland: Social capital out on a limb. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 10 (2). pp. 141-155. ISSN 1474-0222

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Abstract

This article critically examines the state (extent of provision) and status (public esteem) of modern language education in Scotland, which as a constituent part of the United Kingdom has its own independent education system. The notion of social capital, as conceptualized by Putnam and others, is used to show how attempts by language professionals in Scottish universities to create social ‘bridges’ and ‘linkages’ with stakeholders in schools have so far not been able to stem an overall downward trend in language study. As a major educational reform is getting underway in Scottish secondary schools, there may be increased opportunities for higher education language staff to build strategic networks but, it is argued, underlying support at the macro level is needed to ensure that such initiatives can be sustained more widely and consistently. Consideration is given to possible future actions.