Policy writers conceptions of language and communication in one higher education institution

Carey Philpott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ball argues that ‘policy authors do make concerted efforts to assert control [of readings] by the means at their disposal … [and that] we need to understand those efforts’ (Ball, 1994, p. 16). Efforts by policy authors to control readings are influenced by their own assumptions about the nature of language, texts and communication. This paper explores the models of language and communication held by policy writers within one HEI and how these influence the strategies they use to try to control interpretations of policy texts. The dominant conceptions of language and communication that emerge underestimate the active work of the ‘receivers’ of policy texts and the need for shared understanding of the social situation in constructing meanings. This leads to a misguided attempt to reduce the ‘implementation gap’ by modifying formal features of policy texts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Early online date1 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • policy
  • language
  • toolmakers paradigm
  • members resources
  • representational speech
  • implementation gap

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