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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ideology in home economics education : a critical discourse analysis Johnson, Ayala Monique


Home economics education is facilitated in many nations, including Canada; and governed by the International Federation for Home Economics. The subject derives from a mission-oriented field (Brown & Paolucci, 1979) that seeks to empower families, individuals and the wellness of these units from within the units themselves. In the 1980s, American home economist, Marjorie Brown submitted that the ideological and philosophical intentions of the field were split since their outset (Brown, 1984; Vaines, 1981; 1984); as a result, there were ideological (mis)understandings among home economists that resulted with professional activity differing from subject intention (Brown, 1993). At a similar time in Canada, a home economics scholar at a Canadian university, Eleanore Vaines recommended ecology as a unifying theme for the field in order to reconnect the social justice and libertarian roots of the field, that were recorded in the Proceedings from the Lake Placid Conferences on Home Economics (held annually between 1899 and 1909), to modern reflective and wholistic professional practise. Similar ecological views for home economics were promoted across Canada and internationally (Bubolz & Sontag, 1988; Hook & Paolucci, 1970/1987; Smith, Peterat, & de Zwart, 2004; Vaines, 1994). I applied Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to the current (2007) official British Columbian home economics curriculum, to determine if this philosophical underpinning for the field was evident, since such analyses could uncover the ideologies underlying curricular discourse and draw out their local relevance; this would be useful for informing pedagogies and future curricular rewrites. Micro- (text) and macro- (social) analyses revealed that neo-capitalist and neo-liberal ideologies dominated the semiotic structuring of the curriculum document. The presence of these ideologies promoted a social hierarchy in which the interests of current government were foregrounded over passive and subordinate construction of educators and students. Developing home economics curriculum through ecology as a unifying theme was found to be minimally supported and hindered by declarative language and a transmissive style of education that also contradicted possibilities for social justice and libertarianism. The conservative approach prevented transformative potentials among educators and students and reduced the personal obligation of these actors to safeguard wholism, equity and ecological health.

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