Private interests and problem frames in social policy reform

Gabrielle Meagher, David P. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper has two aims: to contribute to understanding of the role that private providers in social care markets play in social policy-making, and to present a method that enables systematic identification of themes in large bodies of policy-relevant digitized documents. We pursue these aims through corpus-assisted analysis of submissions by providers (non-profit, for-profit and professional) to an Australian inquiry into aged care policy in 2010-11. We show how quantitative methods from corpus linguistics can be used to identify themes, at the level of the word, phrase and construction, and outline how this form of analysis can support critical discourse analysis in the qualitative interpretive tradition. Our analysis reveals clear differences in how the three groups frame policy ‘problems’ and their ‘solutions’, and that these framings align broadly with their interests. We find evidence of a ‘market frame’ in the For-profit sub-corpus, an ‘advocacy frame’ in the Non-profit sub-corpus, and a ‘professionalism frame’ in the Professional sub-corpus. We also find some important commonalities between the provider groups, which raise questions for further research about internal diversity within these groups and about the interaction between regulation, system structure, and organizational interests.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalCritical approaches to discourse analysis across disciplines
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2018


  • problem framing
  • corpus-assisted discourse analysis
  • managed market
  • aged care
  • Australia


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