Nottingham University Business School
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Isla Farley

BA Development Studies, MSc CSR

Room: B26 (South Building)
Tel: +44 (0) 115 8467751

Current Status: Registered
Year of Registration: 2015
Expected Completion Date: /09/2018

Primary Funding Source:
Business School Scholarship

Research Topic:
The Role of Discursive Opportunity in Contesting Public Issues: The Struggle Over Food Security Discourse

Research Details:
Organisations wield extraordinary power in contemporary society. Much of this power is exercised through the strategic use of language and other symbols (Hoffman & Ford 2010). In order to redress some of the structural inequalities that inhibit the effective resolution social problems we must come to a better understanding of organisational discourse, particularly given that to some extent "all organizational discourse (mis)represents various publics' interests it is supposed to represent" (Waymer 2009, p.24). My thesis takes a critical perspective on discourse in organisations in order to explore the strategic dimensions of public issue framing contests, focusing on discursive opportunities. The research is situated in the context of discursive struggles surrounding the highly contested issue of genetic modification (GM) as it relates to wider debates regarding global food security.
Issue framing contests take place as organisations with different interests seek to impose their preferred meaning on a given situation, winning support for their interpretation of a contested issue (Dahan & Gittens 2010). My research aims to explore how organisations use discursive opportunities to contest public issues and shape public discourse. It will critically examine the framing strategies of organisations engaged in discursive struggles as they respond to salient aspects of the broader discursive environment. The research seeks to understand how power relations influence which voices dominate public discourse whilst others are silenced. Framing contests not only determine how contested issues are publicly perceived, but also translate into tangible outcomes which may privilege powerful organisations, and which may or may not benefit society. Given that the outcomes of public issue framing contests shape local, national and international responses to complex social problems, in order to ensure the best chance of addressing these problems effectively we must better understand the dynamics of framing contests. Understanding how and why certain organisational actors dominate public issue framing contests is an important step towards challenging power structures that prevent us from effectively addressing some of the world's most pressing and complex social problems.

Research Supervisor/s: Robert Caruana and Sareh Pouryousefi

Division: Marketing

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