Industrial relations and verbal behaviour in the New Zealand House of Representatives (1987-88)

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Master of Arts
University of Canterbury
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Conner, James

Although there are a small but substantial number of studies which have examined how the mass media portray industrial relations, there are few, if any, on how politicians portray such matters. This study analysed in detail the content of industrial relations language as spoken by some politicians in the New Zealand House of Representatives. A content analysis was performed upon twelve sample Hansard issues and two elected industrial relations bills over a one year sample period, from October 1987 to September 1988. It was directed at the amount of coverage and type of industrial language appearing in parliamentary debates, the manner in which it was presented and by whom, and the types and characteristics of participants who appeared in the debates. The findings were also compared with the way in which the mass media portray such matters. It was found that industrial relations receives a good deal of attention from politicians and that they do not avail themselves equally of the opportunity to speak in the House. There was a marked difference between some of the industrial relations topics considered of high public value by politicians and those topics considered of high public value by the news media. The economic context of industrial relations featured the most prominently whereas industrial action was hardly mentioned. Negotiating behaviour received only a small amount of attention and the tone of debates was relatively equally spread between being conflict creating and generally mixed, not ascertainable, and neutral. It was also found that politicians were concerned with the actions or affairs of a wide range and large number of participants, and that no one participant type was overwhelmingly prominent. The implications of these findings were explored in industrial relations, political, and public perceptions contexts. Suggestions for further research were also discussed.

New Zealand--Parliament.--House of Representatives--Rules and practice, Industrial relations--Political aspects--New Zealand, Politicians--New Zealand--Language
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