7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Sharon Aris

Sharon has broad experience in research, education and community practice having worked as a university lecturer, journalist, vocational and professional trainer, policy advisor and advocate and youth worker.

Sharon’s research interests relate to the sociology of education, sociology of young people and the family and the sociology of knowledge. Her specific focus currently is on how families and schools intersect in the educational field. She is also interested in the development and praxis of the sociology of knowledge, particularly using Legitimation Code Theory and is currently examining its application to both higher education and vocational learning environments.

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Focus and Basis: Using parliamentary speech to reveal social principles

Parliamentary speech offers the researcher a trove of publicly available secondary data on current topics of debate. Treated as content this can provide a highly useful indicator of social opinion that relates the primary subject of debate. It can also be used to usefully reveal normative social principles beyond the focus of discussion. However, to get at these principles both the rhetoric of parliamentary speech and the focus of debate needs to be negotiated and decoded to reveal the underlying basis, or principle of legitimacy. This session uses the concepts of focus/basis and constellation analysis from Legitimation Code Theory to reveal underlying principles of legitimation. Using data from a recent doctoral study this unpacks a set of parliamentary debates revealing both key themes arising from the focus of the debates on school funding, as well as the significant social principles that informed these relating to the relationship of families to school education. By the end of this session participants will have some useful tools for decoding parliamentary speech as a data source. These can be applied not only to debates directly focused on their object of study, also for reveal social principles that inform the basis that underlie these.