Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Urban Multilingualism and the Civic University: A Dynamic, Non-Linear Model of Participatory Research

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Abstract:  Drawing on the example of Multilingual Manchester, we show how a university research unit can support work toward a more inclusive society by raising awareness of language diversity and thereby helping to facilitate access to services, raise confidence among disadvantaged groups, sensitise young people to the challenges of diversity, and remove barriers. The setting (Manchester, UK) is one in which globalisation and increased mobility have created a diverse civic community; where austerity measures in the wake of the financial crisis a decade ago continue to put pressure on public services affecting the most vulnerable population sectors; and where higher education is embracing a neo-liberal agenda with growing emphasis on the economisation of research, commodification of teaching, and a need to demonstrate a ‘return on investment’ to clients and sponsors. Unexpectedly, perhaps, this environment creates favourable conditions for a model of participatory research that involves co-production with students and local stakeholders and seeks to shape public discourses around language diversity as a way of promoting values and strategies of inclusion.

Keywords:  language; Manchester; multilingualism; social responsibility; participatory research; university



© Yaron Matras, Alex Robertson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.