Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 16, Issue 1, 2013

Critical Refusals, Part 1

Mark O'Brien
Pages 187-203

Marcuse and the Language of Power
The Unfair Discourse of "Fairness" in the Coalition Government's Policy Presentation

This paper considers the political manipulation of language in the UK governmental fairness agenda. It employs Marcuse’s analytical notion of the suppression of the transitive meaning of “the word” within “the sentence.” Further to this it links the operationalizing of language with positivist and uncritical policy epistemologies used by the UK coalition government. Using this theoretical framework the paper draws out the two broad meanings of the term “fairness” used to legitimate public-sector cuts on the one hand, and by researchers concerned with issues of structural inequality on the other.