Situation Analysis
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Tool - Situation Analysis.
Toolbox section 10

Theory - This tool is based on the hypothesis that one of the main structures in all communication (and text) is:-

1. The description of a situation, and
2. The further evaluation of the situation
3. In many cases, a basis for the evaluation is also given

In a simple example "it's raining" describes a situation (and probably implies unhappiness, otherwise the speaker would not have mentioned it), "it's raining heavily" adds the evaluation that the rainfall is heavy, and "it's raining heavily, I can hear the rain on the roof" adds a basis for the evaluation.

Nearly all sentences fall into this pattern, and the phenomenon is so widespread that we can ask if all thought also takes this pattern too.

Sometimes, as in the example below, the situation and evaluation need to be inferred from the text.

I have adapted this tool from the work of Michael Hoey (1994) Signalling in discourse:a functional analysis of a common discourse pattern in written and spoken English. In: Coulthard, (ed.) Advances in Written Text Analysis, Routledge, London. The same pattern is also used by Eugene Winter in the the same work, and is a familiar tool from text analysis


1. The Context of Food Policy
2. Government and Policy
3. Policy Analysis
Decision Techniques
Lobby Influences
The Imaginary Reader
A Site of Struggle
Situation Analysis
Repetition (of "sustainability")
Links and Entanglements
4. In-depth analysis of sub-topics
5. The Dispositive (Triangulation)
6. Summary
7. Conclusions


Example:-
Objective O1 is "To protect public health in relation to farm produce and to animal diseases transmissible to humans"

The verb 'protect' is used, and this always states or implies 'from a danger', implying that the current situation is a danger to public health, and evaluating that the sources of danger are farm produce and animal diseases.

The full normal usage would be "X protects Y from (the danger of) Z (on the basis of B)",
that is, "the Government will protect the public from the dangers of farm produce and animal diseases"
however, in this text fragment, 'in relation to' has been used instead of 'from'. This seems to be an attempt to avoid public alarm by making the linkage more vague.

The verb has been used in the infinitive form 'to protect', and this use of the infinitive occurs throughout. Similarly, the subject or actor (the Government) is implied, and this could be seen as an evasion of responsibility compared to the stronger statements that could have been made here.


Interpretation and Discussion.

Despite all claims that are made about the quality of UK food, this objective clearly indicates that "farm produce and to animal diseases transmissible to humans" are a potential danger to public health.

The fact that the Government has written this seems to be a statement that they have confidence in their power and ability to be able to carry out this objective and protect the public - the same confidence in their abilities appears in all the other Aims and Objectives.

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