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A multilingual city in a bilingual straight jacket

Although the freedom of language use was guaranteed by the Constitution, language has always been a contested issue in Belgium. The current political model is based on the pacification of the conflicts between the two main language communities. This model is the result of a quasi-continuous process of state reform built on a consociationalist conflict preventing design that starts from official language use as the core political cleavage. This resulted in a complex organization of the public and semi- public institutions. The pacification model is based on the political conditions before 1960. Since then the situation has radically changed. Brussels became a city of Immigration. Nowadays half the population has an immigrant background. Among youngsters, traditional monolingual families based on one of the official languages, only account for a third of the population. The changing composition of the population obviously has an impact on the linguistic practices. Within all different domains of language use, Brussels is characterized by a growing multilingualism. The question raises to what extend this situation affects the traditional structures of the pacification model that aims at regulating the contact situations between the two traditional languages.



18:30 > 20:30




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