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Using critical discourse analysis to examine cultures of denial in the Roman Catholic Church


Guerzoni, MA, Using critical discourse analysis to examine cultures of denial in the Roman Catholic Church, SAGE Research Methods Cases., United Kingdom, 2 (2018) [Entry]

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DOI: doi:10.4135/9781526447081


The study of institutional responses to child sexual abuse within Christian churches is a phenomenon difficult to study as churches are closed institutions—defensive amidst the present societal attention toward clerical abuse. Drawing from my experiences in a Criminology Honors program, this case study illustrates how Critical Discourse Analysis can be used to undertake research where access to participants/data is difficult due to being labeled as "high risk" or otherwise "sensitive" research. My honors research sought to test the presence of a causal connexion between certain components of Roman Catholicism (clerical exemption from mandatory reporting; the confessional seal) and church secrecy toward clergy-child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Critical Discourse Analysis was employed to analyze 28 documents from a governmental sexual abuse inquiry in Victoria, Australia. The analysis incorporated the frameworks of nation-state denial theory and techniques of neutralization to uncover patterns of secrecy and denial in the Church’s approaches, proposed and actual, to clergy-child sexual abuse as reported to the inquiry. This case study recounts my experiences of learning and "doing" Critical Discourse Analysis for the first time and overcoming self-doubt, as well as commends the use of the method in sociological research.

Item Details

Item Type:Entry
Keywords:Critical Discourse Analysis, Roman Catholic Church, child sexual abuse, research methods
Research Division:Studies in Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociological Methodology and Research Methods
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and Instruction
Objective Field:Pedagogy
UTAS Author:Guerzoni, MA (Dr Michael Guerzoni)
ID Code:126099
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2018-05-23
Last Modified:2018-05-23

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