Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Civil Aviation Security: The Ideologies the Australian Government Subscribes to When Identifying Terrorists

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Civil Aviation Security: The Ideologies the Australian Government Subscribes to When Identifying Terrorists

Article excerpt


This study sought to make explicit the thinking and assumptions that underpinned the Australian Governments framing of its counter terrorism policies and priorities in relation to aviation security. Any paper like this that is focused on revealing Government ideology and understandings of terrorism must include explication of what ideology is and its role in shaping policy, and a broad overview of the causal factors of terrorism. The definition of ideology offered by historian Michael Hunt provides a good understanding for how it has been interpreted in this study. According to Hunt ideology is defined as "an interrelated set of convictions or assumptions that reduces the complexities of a particular slice of reality to easily comprehensible terms and suggests appropriate ways of dealing with that reality" (1987, pp.12-13). Influenced by the works of Foucault and Derrida, the authors have examined the language used by policymakers and analysed the meanings of those that compose policy. By situating language at the centre of social reality, the 'linguistic turn' reaffirms the importance of ideology (See, 2002) in assessing policy.

The 9/11 attacks have brought about policing, military, security, political, legal and ideological responses to countering terrorism, specifically Islamic terrorism, worldwide. The attacks have also led Australia and many other nations around the world to reconsider aviation security, principally given that it was the focused attack on civil aviation that created such destruction. While there has been significant changes in the organising principles and resultant practices of aviation security in many countries including Australia, the area has received limited public debate, whether that be amongst scholars, Government or any other circle.

By exploring the connections between policy and practice and the wellspring of ideologies this paper has helped trace deficiencies in aviation security. Ideology is the first link in the policy and practice chain. Ideology precedes policy, whilst policy precedes practice. Failure in policy or practice could be the result of those implementing it at each level, but it could also be the result of ideology. However, it would be near impossible to trace these failures back to the source of the problem (ideology) if that source is unknown, or is not made explicit. The paper has therefore helped make this position clearer.


Theoretical Framework and Methodology

Stemming from Haberman's (1973) critical theory, the aim of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is to assist the analyst in their understanding of social problems that are mediated by mainstream ideology and power relationships, and which are perpetuated by the use of written texts in our professional and daily lives. The object of this type of analysis is to reveal the ideological assumptions that are concealed in the words of written text, speech and visuals (Fairclough, 1989).

CDA deals with studying and analysing written texts and spoken words to unearth the discursive sources of power, dominance, inequality and bias, and how these sources are initiated, maintained, reproduced, and transformed within specific social, economic, political and historical contexts (van Dijk, 1988).

With the aim of interpreting meaning from text, speech and visual representations the research process sought to discover the values and ideologies underlying these. Given that these values and ideologies tend to be hidden rather than explicitly stated, a comprehensive CDA step-by-step approach is required (Threadgod, 1989). However, CDA does not have a unitary theoretical framework or methodology (van Dijk, 2000).

Ultimately, it was the variant of CDA presented by Huckin (1997) that was adopted. Huckin's (1997) approach is widely referred to in the field of discourse analysis and his approach is comprehensive in that it analyses how both text and visuals are used to convey meaning. …

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