The research reported in this thesis text is concerned with the mediatization of policy. The policy treated in this thesis text is Australia’s Science Capability Review, led by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Robin Batterham. Batterham’s Review is identified in this thesis text with the emergence of knowledge economy policies in Australia. More specifically, the topic of this thesis is understanding the way that media and policy practices represented knowledge as the basis for a range of social problems over the course of Batterham’s Review, and ways that media-policy interactions led to the knowledge economy as a solution. The policy conceptualisation of the knowledge economy within the policy texts that were developed over the course of Batterham’s Review is therefore an object of this research.
In order to understand this topic, a number of academic resources are drawn on from the fields of policy studies, media studies, sociology and philosophy of science. The major theoretical resources utilised in this thesis are drawn from the work of the late French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, particularly his theory of social fields. The topic of this thesis depends on an understanding of how different social fields relate, which leads to some orginal theorisation around fields in order to name and represent problems that are documented from the research data. Two new concepts are introduced to understand the relations between fields and policy processes. The first of these is one class of cross-field effects, which adapts Ian Hacking’s work on the looping effects asociated with categories used within psychology to discuss ways that practices of categorisation within one field come to influence practices in other fields. The second of these is temporary social fields, developed as a way of viewing the time dependent interactions between the media field and policy fields over the course of policy reviews. The framework of analysis built around the theory of fields is incorporated as a tool for policy analysis, and is applied to the process of mediatization of policy, in which the media act to influence policy making in distinct and systemic ways. The basic unit of analysis that is associated with Bourdieu’s theory of fields is practice, leading to the interactions between the media and policy making being described as representing practices (which include framing practices and weighting practices) and intervening practices.