Discursive struggle and contested signifiers in the arenas of education policy and work skills in Japan

David Rear*, Alan Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article critically examines discourses of education policy and work skills in twenty-first century Japan. Conducting a close analysis of texts produced by the Ministry of Education (MEXT) and the Japan Business Federation, it combines analytical constructs from the Discourse Theory of Laclau and Mouffe with those from Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to identify two distinct discourses currently engaged in a struggle for hegemony: a discourse of individual-centered neoliberalism and a discourse of group-centered moral conservatism. This struggle can be described at the level of key signifiers, whose meanings are tacitly contested by the two discourses. In employing these antagonistic discourses within single texts and even single clauses, policymakers produce a hybridized but ultimately incoherent discourse that attempts to uphold the prevailing social order by harnessing the individuality of Japanese citizens into a vision of patriotism and national solidarity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)375-394
    Number of pages20
    JournalCritical Policy Studies
    Volume7
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Keywords

    • discourse theory
    • education policy
    • hegemony
    • intertextuality
    • Japan
    • work skills

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