Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Economics, Sociology, Political science, public administration, Media and socio-cultural communication

Publication Details

Discovering discourse conference, University College Cork, Ireland June 18-19,, 2018


Certain but stable? A diachronic analysis of taxation in Ireland from 1970-2015

This paper explores the discursive development of taxation within budget speeches in Ireland from 1970 to 2015 by means of a corpus-assisted discourse analysis. We ask the following questions; how have discourses of taxation developed diachronically and what are the similarities and differences in the observable discourses? In answering these questions, this paper makes use of corpus linguistics, a methodological approach which utilises computational analysis of large bodies of text to draw statistically significant conclusions about word usage. It is expected, though not taken a priori, that significant discursive change will be centred around periods of economic crisis, points in time where a fissure in the normalcy of meaning is opened thus enabling contestation and discursive change to occur. Change will be examined first through a collocate analysis of the lemma tax, followed by an analysis of discourse prosody. How different types of taxation are discursively constructed and legitimised by successive Finance Ministers has distinct material consequences for the development of the state and the welfare of its population, in particular, the provision of social protection. By examining the discursive limits of taxation in budget speeches, we can also examine those discourses which are conspicuous through their absence over the period in question. This paper is novel due to the manner in which it assembles a large specialised corpus to empirically demonstrate the ways in which taxation has been discursively constructed in the context of a 45 year period, challenging the necessity of established discourses by uncovering their historically contingent origins.




Irish Research Council