Food is very important. We eat 3 times a day, and without food we would die !
However, food reaches our plates at the end of a very long supply chain, and many aspects of this supply chain are influenced or controlled by Government policies.
I have studied the Government policies for food and farming with a number of questions in mind:-
- what are the policies ? is there one key document which summarises them? I look at this in the Government Section
- do policies really work ? for example, what policies were involved in the outbreaks of BSE and foot and mouth disease ? I analyse the key text in the Policy Analysis Section, and then I look at several Sub-Topics in more detail
- the policies are formed in a context of businesses, organisations, history and a culture of food. I have carried out a survey of websites of producers, campaigners, advertisers, and so on, to try and establish an agreed Context.
- do all the facts add up ? On the one hand we have Government policies, on the other we have the food on our plate, and there are also events and contexts. Do these all tell the same story ? If not, why not ? I have used a technique called the Dispositive to look at this
- the final question is "what does the Government think about food" ? Adding all these techniques together begins to give an answer to this, and my Conclusions and Summary gives a brief idea of this
The Discourse Analysis of the policy is the main study, and the study of the wider Context Analysis and the internal Government Context form the background material for this. The examination using the Dispositive examines how well the Government fits with the Context, using triangulation. You may wish to read the Conclusions and Summary first, however !
In all of these studies, I have used the idea of Discourse, rather than thought or mind. Discourse is a different way of looking at the world, and it has some advantages:-
- it sees everything as a steady buildup of knowledge
- people are seen as "knitting along" and improving the discourses we use
- conversely, we are often "knitted into" discourses that we are born into or acquire from the media or society
- discourses change and develop - The discourse about "a healthy diet" is now very different to 50 years ago
- using discourse allows us to take into account all the different influences on us from the media and fashions, and also to see the tensions of different discourses acting and reacting (in the sample text - green, business and consumer discourses are carefully balanced)
- we use thought and mind sometimes, but perhaps less than we imagine !!
- I have devleoped a Discourse Toolbox, which has given very good results
In this work I am aiming at a "middle ground", and I am trying to avoid issues, campaigning, and commentary. I am trying to carry out a sort of "archaeology" of what the government thinks in a number of key areas, how this relates to "reality" and how this influences us. This "archeology" is needed because there are many deep changes going on in the UK, in food production, in Government, and also in people's lives.
Ultimately, this website is about some of the deep-seated hidden patterns in human life and our historical processes, and in particular, about how these operate in our discourses about food and food policy. What I have written may not be easy to read and understand, and it raises some interesting questions, though there are no easy sound-bites. The questions I raise may seem academic, but they DO influence the contents of our trolley at the supermarket !
The Discourse Toolbox is described in detail at a companion site. It has been 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 dynamic. The toolbox has great potential for the systematic examination of problem texts, such as the in-depth study of policy, and the examination of competitors' statements. If you want to commission a study, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone me on 01372-749803