Rendering Equality and Diversity Policies in UK Higher Education Institutions.

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As employers, higher education institutions in the UK are now under a statutory obligation to institute and implement equal opportunities policies. Integral to the process of instituting and implementing equal opportunities policies is effective communication of the policies. In this paper I conduct a critical discourse analysis of the staff equal opportunities policies of six UK higher education institutions as they were presented on their websites in October 2004. The aim of the analysis is to map out the policy documents’ genres, styles, the types of audiences addressed and anticipated, the representation of social identities, and the inter-textual meanings that are incorporated and presupposed. It is argued that the policy statements draw upon and intersect several genres which do not sit quite comfortably with each other, and which create some ambiguities as to their communicative purpose; that they are organized around performative enunciations of promises and commitments largely oriented towards the future. I will also explore the ways in which the policy statements relay and re-inflect the statutory obligations emanating from governmental legislation, and the tensions and contradictions following from the policy statements’ attempt to reconcile the principle of equal opportunities with the ideological construct of meritocracy. And finally, considering the aggregate configuration of the six higher education institutions’ policies, I highlight the differential topicalisation of equal opportunities ‘areas’ in the policy documents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283 - 310
Number of pages28
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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