Sydney School of Education and Social Work events - 2013 Archive

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Language of the policy process

12 September 2013

This lecture presents a work in progress that uses a method relatively new in policy studies – corpus-assisted discourse analysis – in a case study of how interest groups frame policy problems and their solutions. The policy context is aged-care reform, specifically, the Australians Productivity Commission's (APC) 2011 inquiry into Caring for Older Australians, commissioned by the first Rudd Government. The inquiry received many hundreds of submissions in which organisations and individuals presented their framings of the policy problems in the aged-care field, and proposed solutions. These submissions are, then, an excellent 'data set' for exploring discourses of interest representation in the policy process.

Discourse analysis in policy research has a reasonably long recent history and is practised in a variety of ways, depending on the underpinning tradition. One challenge for policy researchers has been to find systematic and more analytically reliable ways to study policy-as-discourse. In large text data sets, such as the set of submissions to the APC, theme identification is a major challenge and tools developed in corpus linguistics allow researchers to identify words, phrases and structures that recur across many documents. Recurrent structures can be used to identify units of text that can then be subject to qualitative critical discourse analysis. This lecture – the second of five in the research training module "Approaches to discourse analysis" – shows how quantitative corpus linguistic methods can assist qualitative discourse analysis in ways that enable policy researchers to make use of the vast and growing 'data sets' available on the internet.

Event details

  • When: 4–5pm

  • Where:

    Change of venue


    Old Teachers College A22, Room 448

    old teachers college location

    Click image for interactive map.


  • Cost: Free

  • RSVP: RSVP by emailing Camilla Pilgrim

  • Contact:

    Camilla Pilgrim

    E: camilla.pilgrim@sydney.edu.au

  • More info:

    View the full schedule of talks in this series.

  • Reading:

    Meagher, G. and Wilkins, D. (2012). "How interests shape problem formulation in elder care reform: an Australian case study using corpus linguistic methods", paper presented at the International Sociological Associations RC19 Conference, Oslo, 23–25 August. Available on request from gabrielle.meagher@sydney.edu.au.

    Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., Khosravinik, M., Krzyzanowski, M., McEnery, T., & Wodak, R. (2008). "A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press". Discourse & Society, 19(3), 273–306.

    Lee, D. Y. W. (2008). "Corpora and discourse analysis: new ways of doing old things". In V. K. Bhatia, J. Flowerdew & R. H. Jones (Eds.), Advances in Discourse Studies. London: Routledge.

  • Speaker: Professor Gabrielle Meagher trained as a political economist, and her current interdisciplinary research program explores the impact of privatisation and personalisation on the way social care services are practised (by social service workers), organised (within and between different kinds of social service agencies), distributed (between social groups),  experienced (by service users) and understood (by broader publics). In 2009, Professor Meagher spent six months as a guest professor at Stockholm University, where she began work with Professor Marta Szebehely on research into the marketisation of elder care in Sweden.


Language of the policy process

Where

Old Teachers College A22, Room 448

old teachers college location

Click image for interactive map.


When

12 September 2013


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