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Conditions of commodification: Russian as a transient commodity in an Arctic tourism resort

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>23/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Number of pages25
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date23/09/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Based on an ethnography incorporating interview, linguistic landscape and observational data, this research illustrates how temporary linguistic value is negotiated and how an Arctic tourism destination is made fit for consumption for a specific audience. Set within a tourism resort in the Finnish Arctic during two weeks in Winter when the region habitually receives a large influx of Russian-speaking visitors, we illustrate how Russian is conceptualized as a means of economic practice by stakeholders in the local tourism industry. While some offer services specifically for a Russian-speaking audience as part of a short-term high-risk/high-reward investment, others regard Russian as an expression of a negative niche market that compromises the overall image of the Arctic as a global tourism destination. We discuss these different understandings of commodity value and highlight, how stakeholders in the local tourism economy imagine and discursively construct Russian-speaking tourists. In doing so, this paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of the conditions of language commodification and the processes involved in the valuation and devaluation of linguistic resources within temporary linguistic markets.