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Mike Medeiros, Åsa von Schoultz, Hanna Wass

Language matters? Antecedents and political consequences of support for bilingualism in Canada and Finland


Language policies are important sociopolitical features of multilingual countries. Not only do they regulate relations with governmental authorities, but they can also impact intergroup relations. Yet, empirical research has tended to ignore language policies. Very little is known in relation to the factors that lead individuals to support or oppose such policies. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, there is relatively little knowledge regarding the influence of attitudes towards language policies on subsequent political phenomena. The present article seeks to address these gaps by exploring bilingualism in Canada and Finland. Specifically, using survey data from both countries’ national election studies, the article, firstly, examines factors that can account for support towards bilingualism and, secondly, it investigates the relationship of these attitudes with vote choice. The results reveal two main findings. Firstly, support for bilingualism seems to be associated with context-specific factors; a general pattern of determinants is not indicated by the results. Secondly, attitudes towards bilingualism are found to have a significant association on vote choice in both Canada and Finland.