Title: Een kritische discoursanalyse van de concepten gelijkheid en diversiteit in de Vlaamse overheid
Other Titles: Een kritische discoursanalyse van de concepten gelijkheid en diversiteit in de Vlaamse overheid
Authors: Scheepers, Sarah
Issue Date: 24-Jun-2016
Abstract: Executive summary
1. Problem definition and research question 1.
Since many years, civil services in Belgium and Flanders apply themselves to guaranteeing equal opportunities for the employees who work in their public administrations. However, different target groups remain underrepresented in public administration jobs, despite years of efforts, action plans, monitoring, informal quota etc. Instead of studying the instruments that are being used to come a diverse workforce in public administration, I was interested in the discourse on diversity. The first research question is: what is the discourse on diversity in the Flemish public sector?

2. Theoretical framework and research question 2.
The theoretical framework is based on the principles of post-structuralist discourse theory. There are no strict boundaries between language and social reality. Discourse is related to power relations, and through the study of hegemonic discourse, one can study the (re)production of unequal social relations. There are a lot of definitions of discourse. In this thesis, I rely on the definition provided by the work of Michel Foucault, who considers discourse as ‘practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak’ (1972: 54). Considering the principles of post-structuralist discourse theory as found in the work of Foucault, we can state that diversity is not an evident, natural given, but is being constructed through social and discursive practices that are inherently connected to power relations. Therefore, my second research question is as follows: how does the discourse on diversity in the Flemish public sector reproduce unequal power relations?

3. Research design and methodology
The research was conducted in the context of the Flemish public administration. More specifically, I studied the Equal Opportunity/Diversity Action Plans that the Department for Emancipation writes each year. In these action plans, the Department announces all the actions that will be taken during the coming year, to enhance diversity within the Flemish public administration. For my thesis, I studied four action plans: the one of 1992, 1997, 2003 and 2009.
As for methodology, I decided to start with a content analysis of the four plans, in order to provide the reader with an overview of what is written in the action plans, what are they about? How does the focus of the plans evolve during the years 1991-2009? Second, I conducted a leximetrical analysis, an analysis on the lexical level. Which words are used, and how are they used. The lexicometrical analysis consists of i) a study of word frequencies, ii) a concordance analysis and iii) a collocation analysis. Lastly, I studied the use of modality. Analysing markers of modality (verbs, adverbs and adjectives), we can study the way that speakers commit themselves to the statements they make (Fairclough 2003:65). Are statements presented as a certainty, a possibility, a wish, an obligation, …?

4. Research results
The analysis shows that the diversity discourse is vague and especially problematic as the position of target groups is concerned. They remain invisible as actors in the diversity policies, whereas the Flemish public administration considers itself as a neutral environment and as an ethical employer that provides solutions to the challenges of diversity. When target figures are not achieved, reasons that are mentioned are the lack of correct monitoring, the lack of diversity training of managers, the economic crisis, … Never are the diversity policies themselves or the administration as an organisation questioned, despite lacking results.
Therefore, the thesis concludes by stating that through the diversity discourse provided by the Flemish public administration, unequal power relations are not being remediated but instead reinforced. Or, linking back to Foucault: in this case, power ‘masks’ itself in the practices and discourse of diversity, while in fact dividing people into those who are diverse and those who claim the position of managers of diversity.
Table of Contents: INHOUD
LIJST VAN AFKORTINGEN....................................... 7
VOORWOORD ............. 8
1.1 Inleiding .. 9
1.2 Formele gelijkheid en het meritprincipe ... 12
1.3 Gelijkekansenbeleid en positieve actie.... 14
1.4 Diversiteitsmanagement ..... 17
1.5 Probleemstelling en eerste onderzoeksvraag ... 30
2.1 Inleiding ...... 31
2.2 Discourstheorie: algemene beginselen ..... 31
2.3 Poststructuralistische discourstheorie ...... 35
2.4 Michel Foucault: macht & discours ..... 40
2.5 Besluit en tweede onderzoeksvraag .. 59
3.1 Inleiding .. 60
3.2 Discoursanalyse als methode .........62
3.3 Methodologisch plan .. 74
3.4 Besluit .. 89
4.1 Inleiding ........ 90
4.2 Synthese van de actieplannen .......... 90
4.3 Lexicometrische analyse ... 129
4.4 Analyse van de modaliteitsaanduidingen .... 215
5.1 Inleiding .......256
5.2 Antwoord op de eerste onderzoeksvraag .... 258
5.3 Antwoord op de tweede onderzoeksvraag .... 262
5.4. Beleidsaanbevelingen ... 266
5.5. Pistes voor verder onderzoek ....... 268
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Public Governance Institute
Functional and Cognitive Linguistics: Grammar and Typology (FunC), Leuven

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