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Critical Policy Discourse Analysis in Higher Education  

Jane Mulderrig

Critical Policy Discourse Analysis (CPDA) is a method for critically investigating the linguistic mechanisms by which education policy is constituted and contested in specific contexts. It involves a systematic methodology for textual and contextual analysis, designed to explore historically specific policy problems and their ideological significance. The analytical procedures involved in this approach are illustrated by means of a case study examining the introduction of quality-assurance governance practices and market-oriented reforms to U.K. higher education (HE). Specifically, the “Teaching Excellence Framework,” introduced in 2017, has two core purposes: to audit and rank universities by teaching quality and to open up the university market to private (for-profit) providers. The two main government documents which introduced this policy are examined in order to explore the prominent themes within this policy, as well as the linguistic strategies that contribute to its ideological framing. A critical investigation of the language through which this policy was introduced and legitimated reveals the neoliberal principles which underpin it and demonstrates how it operates as a dehumanizing technique of calculation and surveillance, while subordinating universities’ societal role to the needs of the economy. Corpus-aided methods are combined with a framework for close textual analysis of policy data, focussing on presuppositions, evaluation, modality and pronouns. The analysis shows the systematic linguistic processes by which student-consumer subjectivities are constructed and the rhetoric of “choice” and “value for money” is (mis)represented as the key to greater access and social mobility for students. This policy takes a significant step toward recasting educational relations in extrinsic, exchange-value terms, which are deeply damaging to universities’ original purpose of building communities of critical reflection, intellectual freedoms, and trust.

Article

Critical Participatory Action Research, Critical Discourse Analysis and Praxis  

Nicolina Montesano Montessori

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) and participatory action research (PAR) reinforce each other as critical research approaches toward social transformation and social justice provided to humans, other species, and the ecosystem at large. Both disciplines are suitable to be embedded in a critical emancipatory research paradigm. Both CDA and PAR are problem-oriented, contextualized forms of social research. Both CDA and PAR are sensitive to the macro, meso, and micro dimensions of social life and the dynamics and relations between these levels. Both CDA and PAR envision social reality as a—respectively—discursive or social construct which, therefore, is—in part—a matter of choice. Both CDA and PAR include the potential of social or organizational change. CDA does so by displaying hidden ideological effects of texts and discourses so as to create awareness and may suggest alternatives; PAR by analyzing existing situations and investigating and implementing alternatives as part of its collective research efforts. Both include the notion of agency and the potential of change, whether in organizations, communities, or in society at large. Both consider the construction of knowledge as a social practice. Both CDA and PAR have iterative research methodologies. CDA reinforces PAR due to its robust theoretical basis, while PAR opens up new ways for CDA to enlarge its impact on the social world beyond academia through the participation of agents. Both CDA and PAR are forms of praxis in that they perform research in social and discursive practice in situated context. Both explicitly rely on theories of practice that include Aristotle, Paulo Freire, and Antonio Gramsci. They do so with the purpose of creating awareness, questioning routines and existing practices, and improving these in an emancipatory project to contribute to a better and a more socially just world. Integrating CDA and PAR and rooting these in a philosophy of praxis creates a solid, inclusive basis for problem-oriented research, considered of high relevance to questioning current hegemonic structures and opening up socially and ecologically just solutions to address the crucial problems of the early 21st century.

Article

Critical Discourse Analysis and Information and Communication Technology in Education  

Cheryl Brown

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is a cross-disciplinary methodological and theoretical approach. At its core CDA explores the intersections between discourse, critique, power, and ideology which hold particular values for those teaching in developing contexts. CDA has emerged as a valuable methodological approach in cultural and media studies and has increased in prominence since the 2010s in education research where it is drawn on to explore educational policy, literacy education, and identity. This research has intersected with the field of information systems which has explored the dominant discourses and discursive practice of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are viewed in policy and the contradictions between rhetoric and reality. It has also been drawn on in research in developing contexts to critique the role of ICTs in education. A brief historical background to CDA and overview of the key components of the approach will be provided. How CDA has been drawn on in educational studies will be examined and research on CDA will be highlighted to explore discursive practices of students and the influence of students’ digital identities on their engagement with and experience of online learning. By focusing on four key constructs of CDA—namely meaning, context, identity, and power—the potential of CDA to critically investigate how students’ are constructing their technological identity in an increasingly digital world will be demonstrated, particularly as examples of research emanating from developing contexts will be drawn.

Article

Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Early Childhood Education  

Alexandra C. Gunn

Formal early childhood education is a relatively modern institution to which increasing numbers of children are routinely exposed. Since the modern invention of childhood, the early childhood years have been increasingly established as a site for public and private investment in the name of individual and community development, the achievement of educational success, increased human productivity, and ultimately labor market productivity and excellence. As various forms of early childhood education have developed around the world, each has been imbued with values, perspectives, norms, and standards of its pioneers. They have also drawn upon and reinforced certain truths, knowledges, practices, and expectations about children, childhood, education, and society. As microcosms of society whose inhabitants are largely novice members of the communities of which they are part, teachers in early childhood education are routinely addressing issues of exclusion, injustice, and inequity with children and families. French historian and poststructural philosopher Michel Foucault’s (1926–1984) interests in the nexus of power-knowledge-truth and its consequences for life offer avenues for comprehending how modern institutions, such as systems of early childhood education, invest in and bring about certain forms of knowledge and practice. His methods of genealogical inquiry and discourse analysis make visible the workings of power as it moves on, in, and through human bodies. The perspectives made visible by Foucauldian analyses show how techniques, developed and applied within institutions, form humans in particular ways. Thus, it is possible to see the interplay between power-truth-knowledge, how things come to be, and how they may change.