2.7 “Enabling” Participatory Governance in Education: A Corpus-Based Critical Analysis of Policy in the United Kingdom

Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter presents a computer-aided critical discourse analytical method for analysing education policy discourse in historical context. It identifies key procedural steps as well as the central importance of interpretation and contextualisation in assessing the wider socio-political significance of the findings, which are grounded in a political economic account of state education in the UK. The discussion is structured around three distinctive but complementary phases of the methodology. First, corpus linguistic ‘keywords’ analysis is used to track the historical emergence and subsidence of dominant political themes in policy. The chapter then explains how this interdisciplinary method helped identify two significant rhetorical trends in recent policy discourse: ‘personalisation’ and ‘managerialisation’. ‘Personalisation’ involves a more salient role for personal pronouns in constructing an apparently consensual, collectivised representation of policy decisions (Mulderrig, Disc Soc 23:701–728, 2012). ‘Managerialisation’ highlights the operation of ‘soft power’ in contemporary educational governance whereby a particular grammatical transformation constructs an ‘enabling’ leadership role for the government alongside a form of ‘managed autonomy’ for citizens (Mulderrig, Crit Disc Stud 88:45–68, 2011).


Social Practice Education Policy Policy Discourse Labour Government Soft Power 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bakhtin, M. (1981). The dialogic imagination. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, D. (1973). The coming of the post-industrial society: A venture in social forecasting. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Blair, T. (2005, October 24). Press conference. BBC 1.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  5. Brine, J. (2006). Lifelong learning and the knowledge economy: Those that know and those that do not – The discourse of the European Union. British Educational Research Journal, 32(5), 649–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Castells, M. (1998). The end of the millennium. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Chilton, P. (2004). Analysing political discourse: Theory and practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Chouliaraki, L., & Fairclough, N. (1999). Discourse in late modernity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Courpasson, D. (2000). Managerial strategies domination: Power in soft bureaucracies. Organisation Studies, 21(1), 141–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dale, R. (1989). The state and education policy. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Department for Education and Skills. (2005). 14–19 education and skills (White Paper). London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  12. Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  13. Fairclough, N. (1992a). Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: The universities. Centre for Language in Social Life, University of Lancaster.Google Scholar
  14. Fairclough, N. (1992b). Discourse and social change. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Fairclough, N. (2005). Critical discourse analysis. Marges Linguistiques, 9, 76–94.Google Scholar
  17. Fairclough, I., & Fairclough, N. (2012a). Political discourse analysis: A method for advanced students. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Fairclough, I., & Fairclough, N. (2012b). Analysis and evaluation of argumentation in CDA: Deliberation and the dialectic of enlightenment. Argumentation et analyse du Discours, 9, 1–20.Google Scholar
  19. Fairclough, N., & Wodak, R. (2008). The Bologna process and the knowledge-based economy: A critical discourse analysis approach. In B. Jessop, N. Fairclough, & R. Wodak (Eds.), Education and the knowledge-based economy in Europe. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Fairclough, N., Jessop, B., & Sayer, A. (2002). Critical realism and semiosis. Journal of Critical Realism, 5(1), 2–10.Google Scholar
  21. Fairclough, N., Mulderrig, J., & Wodak, R. (2011). Critical discourse analysis. In T. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse studies: A multidisciplinary introduction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Farrelly, M. (2010). Critical discourse analysis in political studies: An illustrative analysis of the ‘empowerment’ agenda. Politics, 30(2), 98–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Giddens, A. (1998). The third way: The renewal of social democracy. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  24. Grundy, P. (2008). Doing pragmatics (3rd ed.). London: Hodder Education.Google Scholar
  25. Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  26. Harvey, D. (1996). Justice, nature and the geography of difference. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  27. Hay, C. (1996). Re-stating social and political change. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hay, C. (1999). The political economy of new labour: Labouring under false pretences? Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hunston, S. (2002). Corpora in applied linguistics. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Jessop, B. (1999). The changing governance of welfare: Recent trends in its primary functions, scale and modes of coordination. Social Policy and Administration, 33(4), 348–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jessop, B. (2002). The future of the capitalist state. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  32. Koller, V., & Wodak, R. (2008). In V. Koller & R. Wodak (Eds.), Handbook of communication in the public sphere (Handbooks of applied linguistics, Vol. 4, pp. 1–17). Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  33. Mautner, G. (2005). Time to get wired: Using web-based corpora in critical discourse analysis. Discourse and Society, 16(6), 809–828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mulderrig, J. (2003). Consuming education: A critical discourse analysis of social actors in new labour’s education policy. Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies 1.
  35. Mulderrig, J. (2008). Using keywords analysis in CDA: Evolving discourses of the knowledge economy in education. In B. Jessop, N. Fairclough, & R. Wodak (Eds.), Education and the knowledge-based economy in Europe (pp. 149–170). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  36. Mulderrig, J. (2009). The language of education policy: From Thatcher to Blair. Saarbrucken: Dr Muller Verlag.Google Scholar
  37. Mulderrig, J. (2011a). Manufacturing consent: A corpus-based critical discourse analysis of New Labour’s educational governance. Journal of Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(6), 562–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mulderrig, J. (2011b). The grammar of governance. Critical Discourse Studies, 8(1), 45–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mulderrig, J. (2012). The hegemony of inclusion: A corpus-based critical discourse analysis of deixis in education policy. Discourse and Society, 23(6), 701–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nye, J. (2004). Soft power: The means to success in world politics. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  41. OECD. (1990). Labour market policies for the 1990s. Paris.Google Scholar
  42. Pearce, M. (2005). Informalization in UK party election broadcasts 1966–97. Language and Literature, 14(1), 65–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Peck, J. (2001). Neoliberalizing states: Thin policies/hard outcomes. Progress in Human Geography, 25, 445–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Petersoo, P. (2007). What does ‘we’ mean? National deixis in the media. Journal of Language and Politics, 6(3), 419–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Reisigl, M., & Wodak, R. (2009). The discourse-historical approach in CDA. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  46. Rogers, R., Malancharuvil-Berkes, E., Mosley, M., Hui, D., & O’Garro Joseph, G. (2005). Critical discourse analysis in education: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 75(3), 365–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rose, N. (1999). Powers of freedom: Reframing political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Scott, M. (1997). Wordsmith tools (Version 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Thrift, N. (1997). The rise of soft capitalism. Cultural Values, 1(1), 29–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tomlinson, S. (2001). Education in a post-welfare society. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Trowler, P. (2003). Education policy (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Van Dijk, T. (2008). Discourse and context: A sociocognitive approach. Cambridge: CUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Leeuwen, T. (1995). Representing social action. Discourse and Society, 4(2), 193–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Leeuwen, T. (1999). Discourses of unemployment in New Labour Britain. In R. Wodak & L. Christoph (Eds.), Challenges in a changing world: Issues in critical discourse analysis (pp. 87–100). Wien: Passagen-Verlag.Google Scholar
  55. West, A., & Pennell, H. (2002). How new is New Labour? The quasi-market and English schools 1997–2001. British Journal of Educational Studies, 50(2), 206–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wilson, J. (1990). Politically speaking: The pragmatic analysis of political language. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of English, University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

Personalised recommendations