The Power of Language: A Study on the Discourse of Social Service Organizations for Children and Families
Fealk, Rebecca T.
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This paper is a qualitative study of the language of nine social service organizations for children and families in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. From these nine organizations, 16 interviews were conducted with employees and volunteers working at different position levels within the organizational structure. Interviews were conducted and recorded, and the language used by each interviewee was noted and applied to Foucault's theories on power, as well as theories on institutions by Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu. While examination of the power of language has been studied on numerous occasions, analyzing language specifically in the realm of children and family services can tap into the family's personal, psychological, and epidemiological problems that grow into larger sociological issues effecting society today. By applying power theories to the social service sector, this study aims to bring forth ways language can be a powerful tool in both positive and negative ways.