The Discourse of Careers Services: A Corpus-Based Critical Discourse Analysis of UK University Websites

Fotiadou, Maria (2017) The Discourse of Careers Services: A Corpus-Based Critical Discourse Analysis of UK University Websites. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

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This thesis examines the discourse of careers services in UK university websites.
The notion of employability has been presented and promoted by powerful
groups, such as governments, organisations, the media, employers, and higher
education institutions, as the remedy to the social problem of unemployment.
Careers services in UK universities were given the role of ‘expert’ professionals
who are there to support and guide students towards developing their
employability and skills. This study examined the ideas and messages
reproduced and promoted by the careers services, which could affect the
students’ understanding of the ‘job market’ and their role in it.
The chosen methodology, that is corpus-based critical discourse analysis,
combined qualitative and quantitative methods and tools for the analysis of 2.6
million words deriving from 58 UK universities’ websites, and more specifically
the careers services sections.
In general, this thesis highlights some of the problematic, common-sense
ideas that are being promoted by these services and encourages the
denaturalisation of the careers services’ discourse. The main argument is that the
language used by the careers services in UK universities reproduces and
promotes neoliberal ideology. The analysis shows that higher education students
are encouraged to develop ‘job-hunting techniques’ and are presented as
responsible for their own ‘survival’ in a ‘fiercely competitive job market’. The
notion of employability is promoted as the main solution to this highly problematic
‘reality’. The services advertise that they ‘know’ what employers are looking for
from prospective employees and claim that they can ‘help’ students with their job
search. The close analysis of linguistic data reveals that these services act as the
‘enablers’ of the students’ self-beneficiary action. In addition, besides their role
as careers counsellors, the services’ use of language demonstrates their
involvement in the therapeutic field.
Finally, the language used by post-1992 and Russell Group universities was
found to be quite similar. There are, however, some differences that could be
viewed as signs of competition between these two university ‘groups’ and a
preference of the job market towards a particular ‘group’ of graduates from elite

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Education > Educational Research
Divisions: Faculty of Education and Society
Collections > Theses
Depositing User: Klaire Purvis-Shepherd
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2018 15:40
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 12:01

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