The language of economic rationalism : a critical discourse analysis of Howard's tax metaphors

McKell, Sue Elizabeth (2007). The language of economic rationalism : a critical discourse analysis of Howard's tax metaphors MPhil Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland.

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Author McKell, Sue Elizabeth
Thesis Title The language of economic rationalism : a critical discourse analysis of Howard's tax metaphors
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Joan Mulholland
Subjects 2099 Other Language, Communication and Culture
Abstract/Summary This dissertation is an exploration of the language of economic rationalism, as seen through a Critical Discourse Analysis of the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard’s, discussion of the proposed Goods and Services Tax in speeches during the 1998 Federal election. In order to examine the language of economic rationalism through an analysis of tax-related discourse, this thesis first examines the theory of economic rationalism in detail and provides a justification for using the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as a key example of neoclassical economic policy and, in turn, of economic rationalism. Critical Discourse Analysis provides the methodological basis for this study, and conceptual metaphors used by John Howard in tax-related discourse are isolated through a combination of both quantitative and qualitative strategies of textual analysis. This thesis identifies three primary conceptual metaphors used by Howard in discussing the issue of tax: two metaphors that described the new tax being proposed, labelled as TAX-AS-MEDICINE and GST-ASREVOLUTION; and a third metaphor that was used to characterise the existing tax regime as a BROKEN MACHINE. Through these metaphors, Howard was able to paint a picture of the GST that was dynamic, forward-looking and positive, yet one that privileges a macro-level and disindividualised view of society. These metaphors support a range of neoclassical principles underlying economic rationalism, including the principle that social progress is best achieved through indirect government intervention, and reveal ideologies based in nationalism where the individual is relegated as secondary to society as a whole.

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