I am interested in Government policy, and I have also been interested in food issues for many years, so I have decided to study UK Government food policy.

The key question for this project is "What does the Government think about food and farming ?" - how do they think, what is their attitude, and what they are trying to achieve. It is a challenge to try and do this for such a large organisation, composed of Ministers, Civil Servants, and many other employees, consultants and agencies. However, as the Government presents itself as a single entity when producing policies and other collective documents, so a researcher can feel justified in examining the official texts that the 'giant' produces, and ascribing these to the 'Government'.

Index of main topics of interest
1. The Context of Food Policy
2. Government and Policy
3. Policy Analysis
4. In-depth analysis of sub-topics
5. The Dispositive (Triangulation)
6. Summary
7. Conclusions

These policy and analysis issues may not immediately seem relevant, but

a) Food is a key area of life - each of us eats, probably 3 times a day, and we drink many assorted liquids,
b) Perhaps 10% of the population are employed in 'the food sector', that is, farming, processing, distribution and retailing of food products in shops and markets, and supply of food in restaurants, etc.
c) Perhaps a further 10% are employed in 'the health sector'

The details of food policy, and the influence of the government on food production then are vitally important to each of us, as the recent outbreaks of BSE and Foot and Mouth illustrate.

My investigation consists of four elements which link together:-

1. Context Analysis - the policy field, map and players in the UK food sector.
2. Government Policy for food and farming - choosing a key text for deeper analysis
3. Theoretical approaches from Critical Discourse Analysis and Text Analysis, and developing an Analysis Toolbox from these. This information is mostly in the parallel site to this one, focussing on the Discourse Toolbox itself
4. Analysis - using the Toolbox to analyse the Text

This analysis has generated a lot of information, so I have:-
5. Looked in greater depth at some particular issues generated by the Toolbox
6. Reflected these results back to the original Context Analysis.(triangulated the results)

I have used the policies for animals and meat production as a theme for study throughout this work. I have focussed on food policies, but I want to make clear that there are also wider land use issues, which have major impacts on food production, which are also touched on in this report.

My main source has been the Departmental Report for 2001 from the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. MAFF is now DEFRA, but the policies are essentially the same. This Departmental Report contains the Department's 'Aims and Objectives', and this is the key text I have chosen to analyse. The Aims and Objectives are worked out in a number of ways in the Departmental Report - into programmes and plans for internal change in the Department, and into policies, regulations and laws for the food producers and suppliers, thus influencing the human food chain and the environment in general.

The main direction of my work is to enquire "What does the Government think about food and farming?" Although this is quite a useful question to pose for research purposes, is very generalised and almost unanswerable, so I also want to use several subsidiary goals to give the study a more finite focus:-

  • I am more interested in looking at 'how policy makers think' (rather than in criticising what they have done).
  • I am interested in the mechanisms of Government, Civil Service, policy, politics and mass communication media, and how these work together.
  • I am curious about the role of Government nowadays in the fields it operates in - is government policy effective, or are they just another player in a global field ?
  • I wanted to create a Text Analysis Toolbox, and test this in practice.
  • I am interested in the deeper (even instinctual) issues around food.
I am offering my services as a "Discourse and Text analysis Specialist" using the Toolbox of techniques I have developed
A post-modern community web hosting service, also from George McNamara