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Analysing complex policy change in Hong Kong: what role for critical discourse analysis?

Annie Y.N. Cheng (The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 15 May 2009




The Hong Kong government recently reformed pre‐primary education with the introduction of a voucher scheme. At the time this policy caused considerable opposition from across Hong Kong Society. This paper seeks to use Fairclough's model of critical discourse analysis to explore a key policy text and seeks to assess to what extent such an analytical framework can help develop a better understanding of the processes of policy development.


The paper uses critical discourse analysis methods and applies these to a specific policy text relating to the reform of pre‐primary education.


The paper suggests that critical discourse analysis can provide a useful analytical tool for analysing the complexities of the policy development process. In particular it surfaces key tensions within policy, such as those between commitments to equity and efficiency, that may have a significant impact on the outcomes of subsequent policy implementation.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is based on a small scale study. Its findings are tentative. There is some merit in the approach adopted, but the use of this approach in relation to policy development requires further work to develop it.


The paper adds to the understanding of how a range of methods of data analysis can help develop a more sophisticated understanding of the nuances of policy development.



Cheng, A.Y.N. (2009), "Analysing complex policy change in Hong Kong: what role for critical discourse analysis?", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 360-366.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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