Limits of language: Stylistic, linguistic and modal convergence in blue-collar communication

  • Guro R. Sanden University of Gothenburg


The present study examines how two Danish manufacturing companies communicate corporate information to blue-collar employees located in foreign production units. By drawing on interview and document data from the companies’ communication departments, this study investigates whether staff at headquarters take any particular considerations into account when they communicate with blue-collar employees. The findings – which are discussed on the basis of communication accommodation theory (CAT) (Giles & Wiemann 1987) and the concept of foreigner talk (Ferguson 1975) – reveal that communication professionals at headquarters converge towards blue-collar employees in three distinct ways: in the form of stylistic, linguistic, and modal convergence. The findings also suggest that the need for convergence arises due to three sector-specific factors, namely the economic geography of manufacturing, the physical work environment of production units, and the educational level of blue-collar employees.

Special Issue: Crossing Organizational Boundaries