Ideology and discourse: Characterizations of the 1996 Farm Bill by agricultural interest groups

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The relationship between discourse and ideology can be described as that of process and effect [Purvis and Hunt (1993) British Journal of Sociology 44: 473-499]. Discourse, used within relations of domination, can result in the formation of ideology. To study this relationship systematically requires a methodology that contextualizes discourse within social relations and examines when such discourse becomes an ideology. I use Thompson's theory/methodology of "depth hermeneutics" to study documents produced by agricultural interest groups concerning the 1996 Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act and I assess the ideological status of the discourses contained in these documents. The findings suggest that the organizations representing the small-to-medium-sized farmers tended to use more agrarian themes, fewer market themes, and fewer linguistic strategies indicative of ideology. The organizations representing more concentrated, vertically-integrated interests and agribusinesses use fewer agrarian themes, more market themes, and more linguistic strategies. Therefore, market themes, not agrarian themes, form an ideology in this context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-253
Number of pages15
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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