Owen D. Mc Carney (2015)

The ‘Celtic Tiger’s’ Neoliberal Stripes: A critical analysis of a decade of Irish Government discourse on emerging social issues. 

My research examines neoliberal ideology in official, Governmental discourse in Ireland in the period 1997 to 2007.  Using a critical approach to discourse analysis (CDA), my thesis addresses how significant social topics (Immigration, Childcare and the Social Partnership programme), are given form through official discourse; and, to what extent such discourse is imbued with the anti-democratic tendencies of the contemporary, state-managed neoliberal project, and specifically, the squeezing of the public sphere (Habermas).

Drawing on theories of discourse and power (Foucault), and employing the concepts of hegemony (Gramsci), and habitus and doxa (Bourdieu); my work starts from an appreciation of language as an element of social life dialectically related to other elements, endowed with the performative power to bring into being the very realities it claims to describe.  Unlike much of the theorising of language and power however, the value-added component of this work is its foregrounding of detailed linguistic analysis in support of theoretical assumption.

Drawing on Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics and employing some of Fairclough’s CDA methodologies, this research therefore undertakes a qualitative analysis of actual Government texts (public discussion documents, press releases and speeches) to unpick the ideological imprint of Government and its neoliberal character.