CRITICAL DISCOURSE STUDIES ON SOCIAL VALUES, IDEOLOGY AND FINNISH EQUALITY

Rusten Lyn Menard

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

This dissertation makes methodological and empirical contributions to understanding how we represent and use values that are important in defining ‘us’, and who ‘we’ consider ourselves to be. It also contributes to our understanding of how particular values, which we might typically assume as enhancing societal wellbeing, can be formulated ideologically in the sense that they are discursive representations and tools for elevating ‘our’ identities and subjugating ‘theirs’. The study material consists of written responses to open questions that were produced by people who are differently positioned in relation to institutionalised norms on “sociability” and/or “sex/gender”: People contacted through a national random sample, people diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and people with transgendered experiences. I therefore also consider how being explicitly marked as psychiatrically, medically and socially ‘abnormal’ might interact with how social values are negotiated in identification and in ideological work. The perspectives informing this dissertation are interdisciplinary. I draw upon theoretical and methodological approaches to values, identification and ideology in social semiotics and critical discourse studies, critical and societal psychologies, semiotic sociology and cultural studies. The first of two primary methodological contributions is in developing a framework for analysing social values as constructions that are formulated in dynamic identification processes. I specify analyses of social values firstly in relation to territorialising what ‘we’ consider to be important, desirable or obligatory; secondly in relation to formulating action programmes by positioning contents into relational participant roles; and thirdly in relation to evaluative positioning of oneself and others in relation to those territorialisations and action programmes. The second methodological contribution is in developing a framework for analysing ideologies as both structures and processes, from the perspective of modalities. Modality is amongst the discursive resources that function to connect and divide viewpoints, to build value projects and to build communities of shared values. My empirical contributions in this dissertation deal with analyses of Finnish equality discourses; how equality is given meaning and used in identification processes. I also examine the extent to which equality as a concept is ideological such that its imbued meanings and uses work to produce and update relations of domination. I interpret four discourses on equality. I suggest that a network of ideological discourses on Finnish equality works to somewhat paradoxically produce and maintain symbolic and material inequalities. Integrating an historical analysis, I argue that this ideology is being constantly updated and maintained in part because of the interrelatedness in the historical path of equality with national projects on temperance, homogeneity, non-conflict and civil unity, the nation and sameness. Particular ways of continually referencing and integrating aspects of these projects into meanings and implementations of equality have been key to maintaining its ideological status. They are also key to understanding how ideological Finnish equality formulations might be transformed.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Törrönen, Jukka, Supervisor, External person
  • Sakki, Inari, Supervisor
Award date16 Dec 2017
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-951-51-3285-7
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-3286-4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2017
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 5144 Social psychology

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