A Site of Struggle
Tool - Non-Matching Relations
Toolbox section 10

Theory - Where there is a list, or where words or phrases are joined by a conjunction (and / or), then we expect that the words or phrases will be of similar type (e.g. "apples and oranges", or "apples and grass are both green"). When a conjunction is not used in this way, it rings alarm bells, and it can be thought of as a site where a struggle or conflict between the people writing the text has not been resolved, and it has come to the surface in the text

If a discourse is a site of struggle or negotiation, then these sites are often marked in text by 'A and B' type statements where A and B are not comparable, and also by lists where the members of the list are not of the same type.

I have developed this tool mostly from the work of Eugene Winter, (1994), "Clause relations as information structure: two basic text structures in English". In: Coulthard, (ed.) Advances in Written Text Analysis, Routledge, London. in particular p. 50

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Example:-
There are many of these 'ands' and 'lists' in the text, and many of them show a tension between economic and green interests, e.g. A2 has 'modern, sustainable, competitive …..'
A3 has 'protection of .. the environment and a thriving rural economy'
O4 has '…. internationally competitive and responsive to consumers requirements'
The green/economic tension is dealt with on another page

However, objective O2 is different, as follows:-

O2. To sustain and enhance the rural and marine environments and public enjoyment of the amenities they provide and to promote forestry

This is confusing - 'and' is used 4 times in 21 words.

1. to link "sustain and enhance". These are equivalent verbs, and this is a normal usage

2. to link "rural and marine environments". Again, this is a normal usage.

3. the third and links the initial verbs "sustain and enhance" which apply first to the environments and then apply also to public enjoyment of the amenities they provide. Since the environment and enjoyment are of different natures, this indicates a site of tension.

4. immediately following this, there is a new main verb 'promote' where another 'and' is used - 'and to promote forestry'. This also is a sign of tension, and this phrase appears to be an 11th Objective which has been added into this one, where it doesn't fit very well.


Interpretation and Discussion.

  • In previous years there have been many complaints and campaigns about forestry operations, as in the past they have often not enhanced the environment (as they are often monocultures and have a negative effect on bio-diversity), and they have not provided an amenity to the public. This objective may be an attempt to defuse these criticisms.
    It seems to have been difficult to include forestry in these Aims and Objectives in a satisfactory way - it is difficult for the outsider to understand why this is, but there certainly are signs of struggle and negotiation here !
  • The author could have written a much simpler "To sustain, enhance and promote the rural, forested and marine environments, and their enjoyment".
    It is difficult for an outsider to understand why this simpler form was not used. It seems much clearer, but we are left with a statement which offers to promote forestry (but not rural and marine environments) and offers to sustain and enhance rural and marine environments (but not forestry). One wonders what processes might have led to this
  • The and linking 'sustain and enhance' with first 'the environment' and then 'public enjoyment' is also very difficult to interpret. In any case, 'sustain and enhance' are unusual verbs to use in relation to 'public enjoyment', and it would be interesting to know why these words were chosen !

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