Edited by Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Michael Farrelly and Jane Mulderrig
Chapter 7: Analysing the representation of social actors: the conceptualisation of objects of governance
Analysis of how policy-makers and legislators represent social actors in texts can give valuable insight into their conceptualisation of objects of governance. Drawing on Van Leeuwen’s methodological work in Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and the theoretical perspective of Cultural Political Economy (CPE), this chapter shows how to analyse the representation of social actors using the example of significant shifts toward ‘competition’ in UK policy on the governance of its gas industry. The chapter analyses the representation of social actors in the ‘texts’ of two parliamentary ‘second reading debates’ (in 1985 and 1995) and shows how current problems in the UK’s competitive energy markets are, effectively, prefigured in the way social actors had been represented in the conceptualisation of competition during these debates. The chapter concludes that analysis of the representation of social actors gives a powerful method for uncovering implicit conceptualisation of objects of governance.
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