A critical discourse analysis of the preambles of selected public documents with reference to racial classification
One of the most pertinent issues currently confronting South Africans and perhaps people around the world is the question of how to bring about social justice for everybody regardless of ‘races’, ‘ethnicities’, cultures, religions and genders. With this in mind, this study evaluates through a critical discourse analysis model the preambles of selected public policy documents in conjunction with the issue of racial classification as prescribed in the Z83 job application form in a post-apartheid South Africa. It draws specifically on Halliday’s (1978, 1989, and 2004) discourse analysis framework to evaluate the field and tenor of public discourse (what happened historically and who was involved in public policy formulations) and finally, the mode of public policy discourse (the part that language plays in the making of a new South African society). Moreover, it uses the education sector as an indicator of transformation to highlight the successes and failures of post-apartheid historical redress. It uses education as an exemplar because it ‘plays’ or has the potential to play a pivotal role in transformation and nation building in a post-apartheid South Africa. The study appraises particularly the impact of the notion of plurality of races as a transformation strategy; that is, its successes and failures in determining educational achievements numerically as well as nation building from 1994 to 2014. It uses close linguistic/discourse analysis to unravel the meaning(s) of ‘united in our diversity’ as well as associated concepts in the preambles of selected public policy documents. The reason for this is to show that the notion of different races is implicated in the concept ‘diversity’ in the preamble of South Africa’s constitution act 108 of 1996 as well as ‘designated groups’ in the preambles of affirmative action and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policies.