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Language interpreting and brokering in Swedish public service institutions: the use of children for multilingual communication
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0641-7096
Independent Researcher, Höganäs, Sweden.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2019 (English)In: Revista de Llenguia i Dret, Journal of language and law, ISSN 0212-5056, Vol. 71, p. 13-26Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to investigate experiences and consequences of using children as language brokers in Swedish public services. First, the two concepts of brokering and interpreting are discussed and compared. Then data obtained from quantitative and qualitative methods, including two online surveys with respondents in health care and social services, and seven group interviews that also include persons with experience of language brokering as children, are analysed and discussed. A main result is that there are discrepancies between how public service staff describe their experiences of using children as interpreters and how children describe their situation. The former assert that the use of children takes place irregularly, seldom, and only in critical situations or simple assignments. In contrast, interviewees with experiences of language brokering as children declare that they interpreted regularly, every day, and in all kinds of situations. They testify that they were neither asked for consent nor was their presence questioned. Although contradictory, both perspectives are relevant and describe the reality of those who participated in the surveys and group interviews. The discrepancy can be explained by the fact that parents and relatives of the brokering children often have encounters with different public service institutions several times a week. If all of them in their practice legitimize the use of children at simple, acute, or single occasions, it ends up as full-time work from the perspective of the child. The discussion further focuses on the consequences for patients and service users in terms of legal certainty and discrimination. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Spain: Ecola d'Administració Pública de Catalunya , 2019. Vol. 71, p. 13-26
Keywords [en]
public service interpreting, social work, health care, non-professional interpreting, language brokering, children, migration, Sweden, group interviews, online surveys
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-85376DOI: 10.2436/rld.i71.2019.3260ISI: 000471234800002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-85376DiVA, id: diva2:1325093
Available from: 2019-06-14 Created: 2019-06-14 Last updated: 2019-07-15Bibliographically approved

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Gustafsson, KristinaHöglund, Petra
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Citation style
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