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Critical Discourse Analysis of Social Policy


Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal Practice
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & PoliticalElective (Host)
Program Evaluation
Older Adults
Children & Families

Course Description

Power and ideology become established and (re)produced in social policy through its discourse and language. Critical analysis of policy discourse, thus, enables social work to make that power and ideology visible and then make challenge. This course will examine social policies by looking at the narratives, frames, representations, values, priorities, and omissions that are produced and reproduced in policy, and ways of challenging. Students will examine how discourses of deservingness, worth and productivity are deeply entrenched in US policies on various domains, such as public assistance, refugee resettlement, climate change, disability, health and poverty. Students will complete a mini or abbreviated Critical Discourse Analysis of policy of their choice by the end of the course.


● Develop critical analysis of social policy by specifying the ways through which power and ideology are produced in policy language and discourse, drawing upon theories of social constructionism and discursive institutionalism
● Demonstrate knowledge about Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a tool for social work policy practice and policy advocacy work
● Gain skills in qualitative analysis and use of qualitative analysis programs
● Develop the ability to conduct Critical Discourse Analysis of social policy (ie. policy documents, legislative hearings, public testimonies, media documents) and apply to practice


The course will utilize a hands-on, workshop approach, and well as discussions and lectures.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice, illuminate injustices and are consistent with scientific and professional knowledge. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will support students developing a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self-knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning.

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