Critical Policy Discourse Analysis
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Critical Policy Discourse Analysis

Edited by Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Michael Farrelly and Jane Mulderrig

This book provides a series of contemporary and international policy case studies analysed through discursive methodological approaches in the traditions of critical discourse analysis, social semiotics and discourse theory. This is the first volume that connects this discursive methodology systematically to the field of critical policy analysis and will therefore be an essential book for researchers who wish to include a discursive analysis in their critical policy research.
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Chapter 7: Analysing the representation of social actors: the conceptualisation of objects of governance

Michael Farrelly


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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