"Dengang jeg var borger": En kritisk diskursanalyse af dialogmøder som borgerinddragelse i Bornholms Regionskommune

Cecilie Mourits-Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Executive Summary: This Master’s thesis is a critical discourse analysis of dialogue as public participation at an island municipality in Denmark. In light of Danish municipalities’ increased orientation toward dialogue, the municipality serves as a case study examining the attempt to engage citizens and politicians in dialogue through a series of public dialogue meetings. Using Cissna & Anderson’s definition of dialogue as a communicative process, through which participants’ mutual respect and willingness allow a mutual reality to unfold, it is examined how the formal institutional frame of a municipality affects the dialogue. Norman Fairclough’s triadic model of critical discourse analysis forms the theoretical ground of an analysis of the dialogue meetings as text, discursive practice and social practice. The textual analysis uncovers that citizens and politicians have opposing concepts of dialogue but share the belief that the two groups are fundamentally different. The analysis of the discursive practice surrounding the meetings reveals how the parties use different discourses to make binary constructs of each other and the meetings. Citizens draw on social discourses to construct the meetings as an arena for equality and understanding while politicians draw on economic discourses to describe the dialogue meetings as political and economic information meetings with only little reference to an increased mutual understanding. As a result, the construction of the meetings revolve around a dichotomy of regulated, asymmetrical versus symmetrical, unregulated communication, reflecting the dichotomy citizen versus politician that characterizes their mutual relationship. Drawing on theory of public administration, the analysis of the social practice, in which the attempt on dialogue is embedded, uncovers how the meetings are part of a discursive and non-­‐discursive social practice in Denmark and other Western countries relating to the public governance paradigm. It is demonstrated how the paradigm has gained influence in municipal administration since the structural reform of Danish counties and municipalities in 2007, leading to the embodiment of dialogue in the municipal order of discourse and social practices. The dialogue meetings are then compared with Habermas’ theory in order to show how the hegemonic struggle to define them is a struggle between the system and lifeworld. Whether this struggle will result in a systemic colonization of the life world or an expansion of the lifeworld into the system cannot be concluded until the negotiations surrounding the meetings establish its genre as rooted in either regulated asymmetrical communication or dialogue. The thesis concludes that no matter the result of this struggle, the negotiation of the dialogue meetings and the slight political opening towards a mutual understanding constitute a transformation of the political order of discourse. This suggests a change in the social practice of municipal and other public bodies -­‐in Denmark as in other countries where public administration has taken a turn toward citizen dialogue.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages87