Regulation as Linguistic Engineering

Roberta G. Lentz


This chapter explores how regulatory texts act as carriers of institutional power in constituting telecommunication industries and infrastructures – entities that continue to evolve in environments where voice (sound), video (image), and data (information) are no longer separate technological or even regulatory domains.2

The so-called “convergent” or “new media” that include broadcasting, telephone systems, and inter-networking resources, such as the Internet, are essential infrastructures for speech and, as such, remain qualitatively different from other forms of regulated public infrastructures (Horwitz 1989). In the twenty-first century, the ubiquity of these converging electronic networks in many parts of the world suggests that telecommunication regulation has emerged as a new form of governance with vital consequences for freedom of expression.3 This is so whether we are talking about municipal, national, or international instances of such regulation. Thus, the practice of administrative law in which regulatory practice is embedded is an important site for critical communication scholarship.

A critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach to telecommunication policy analysis illuminates how regulatory texts do constitutive work.4 Norman Fairclough, one of the founders of CDA and an advocate of studying power through the sociology of language, situates texts as communicative events within the discursive practices ...

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