Can We Demarcate the Future? a Discourse Analysis of the Future Studying Congressional Hearings in the US
The guiding hypothesis of the paper is that global futures that could be expressed during the 109th (2005-7) and 110th (2007-9) US Congress differed sharply. Both sessions of the congress overlapped with George W. Bush’s second term as President but the former knew a Republican majority whereas the Democrats dominated the latter. Previous research suggests that this alteration shifted debates within Congress and, equally important, gave space to new members of civil and economic society. Congressional hearings are a key element of the American political discursive landscape as they represent a forum for different policy actors to share their positions which informs political decision making.
The methodological approach developed in this paper combines qualitative content analysis and network analysis. Together, these methods provide for an approach to discourse analysis which makes it possible to evaluate the positions of actors and their claims within an epistemic community. Undertaking this analysis across time furthermore unravels how the structure of these communities has evolved over the period of a critical political shift in the composition of Congress.