We use words to speak or write. However, they can express more
of our thoughts than we expect - we often call this "reading
between the lines". When we examine a set of words, there is
always a risk that we will slip into commentary or campaigning -
I have tried to develop a set of techniques that go beyond this,
which try to develop agreed and definitive answers to questions
like "What are they thinking of to say that ?" and "What
are they really saying ?".
I have created a Toolbox of techniques to do this based on the
theoretical field of Critical Discourse Analysis. There are 15 groups
of tools in the Toolbox, and, as an introduction, I have used some
of the tools from the toolbox to analyse a UK Government Food Policy
text. Worked examples of using the tools are given in the orange
A summary of the complete Toolbox is given Here
As a sample text, I have used the UK Government Aims and Objectives
for 2001 from the Ministry of Agriculture. The full text is
given Here, with links to the tools
I have created a
companion website where the main focus is on UK food policy,
where these and other tools have extracted the information.
The toolbox has been particularly developed so that lobby and other
groups can understand more fully the situation of Governments and
businesses, so that they can communicate better with them rather
than going into a polarised or oppositioinal dynamic.
For those new to discourse, I have written brief essays on the
theoretical basis of the Toolbox, in the blue box below:
||The Discourse Toolbox is mostly based on the first
two, Discourse Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis. However,
further sets of tools can be generated from Context and Event
Models, and from the Dispositive. A process of triangulation
using several approaches can be essential to validate information
and generate full understanding
These tools have great potential for the systematic examination
of problem texts, and I have created a proposed full methodology
for the in-depth study of policy and similar texts.
I you want to commission a study, please contact me by email at
or phone me.