Financial Literacy and Academics: A Critical Discourse Analysis


  • Leona English Professor Adult Education St. Francis Xavier University



adult education, discourse analysis, power, financial literacy


Abstract: Using a critical discourse analysis (CDA), we explore the experience of adult education and business academics educating new parents for financial literacy. Informed by poststructuralism, CDA helps to examine the social relations of power operating in knowledge dissemination processes, especially as they affect adult educators, accountants, community partners, new parents, funding agencies, and government. We analyze our own engagement in this financial program, highlighting our complicities and resistances, especially the ways in which we wittingly and knowingly become academic lackeys for our government.

Author Biography

Leona English, Professor Adult Education St. Francis Xavier University

Professor of Adult Education


Antone, E. (2003). Aboriginal peoples: Literacy and learning. Literacies, 1, 9-12.

Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. New Delhi: Sage.

Blommaert, J., & Blucaen , C. (2000). Critical discourse analysis. Annual Review of Anthropology, 29: 447-466.

Bok, D. (2003). Universities in the marketplace: The commercialization of higher education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Boyce, G. (2004). Critical accounting education: Teaching and learning outside the circle. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 15: 565-586.

Brookfield, S. D. (2005). The power of critical theory: Liberating adult learning and teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Buckland, J. (2010). Are low-income Canadians financially literate? Placing financial literacy in the context of personal and structural constraints. Adult Education Quarterly, 60(4), 357-376.

Caffarella, R. (2002). Planning programs for adult learners (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Carter, C. (2008). A curiously British story: Foucault goes to business school. International Studies of Management and Organization, 38(1), 14-30.

CAUT. (2009). A bleak outlook for students. Caut/ACPPU Bulletin, 56 (7), p. A1, A6

CGA (Certified General Accountants Association of Canada). (2007). Where does the money go: The increasing reliance on household debt in Canada. Ottawa: Author.

Coyne, A. (2009). Budget ‘09: Tories take a final leap into the void. Macleans Magazine. Blog. January 27, 2009. Available at:

Davies, B. (2004). Introduction: Poststructuralist lines of flight in Australia. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17 (1), 1-9.

Davis, C., & Mantler, J. ( 2004). The consequences of financial stress for individuals, families, and society. Ottawa: Centre for Research on Stress, Coping and Well-being, Carleton University.

English, L.M., & Irving, C. J. (2008). Reflexive texts: Issues of knowledge, power and discourse in researching gender and learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 58(4), 267-283.

Fairclough N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fairclough, N., & Wodak, R. (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In T.A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse as social interaction (Vol. 1, pp. 258-284). London: Sage.

Ferguson, J. (2007). Analysing accounting discourse: avoiding the ‘fallacy of internalism.’ Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 20(6), 912-934.

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon.

Foucault, M. (1982) The subject and power. In H. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow, (Eds.). Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics (pp.208-226). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Freire, P., & Macdeo, D. P. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word & the world. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.

Froud, J., Haslam, C., Johal, S., & Williams, K. (2000). Shareholder value and financialization: Consultancy promises- management moves. Economy and Society, 29(1), 80 –110.

Gendron, Y., & Bedard, J. (2001). Academic auditing research: An exploratory investigation into its usefulness. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 12, 339–368.

Haggerty, K. D. (2004). Ethics creep: Governing social science research in the name of ethics. Qualitative Sociology, 27(4), 391-414.

Hogarth, J. M., & Swanson, J. (1995). Using adult education principles in financial education for low income audiences. Family Economics and Resource Management Biennial, 139-145.

Irving, C., & English, L. M. (2008). Partnering for research: A critical discourse analysis. Studies in Continuing Education, 30(2), 107-118.

Landvogt, K. 2006. Critical financial capability. Paper presented at the Financial Literacy, Banking and Identity Conference. RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. October 25-25-2006 Available at

MacLullich, K. K. (2003). The emperor's "new" clothes? New audit regimes: Insights from Foucault's technologies of the self. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 14, 791-811.

Mills, S. (1997). Discourse. London: Routledge.

Orton, L. (2007). Financial literacy: Lessons from international experience. Canadian Policy Research Networks.Ottawa.

Phillips, N., & Hardy, C. (2002). Discourse analysis: Investigating processes of social constructivism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pleasant, A. (2011). Health literacy: An opportunity to improve individuals, community and global health. In L. Hill (Ed), Adult Education for Health and Wellness (pp. 43-53), New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 130. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.

PRI (Policy Research Initiative). (2005). Why financial capability matters, synthesis report. Prepared by Social and Enterprise Development Innovations for the PRI Project “New Approaches for Addressing Poverty and Exclusion.” Report on “Canadians and Their Money: A National Symposium on Financial Capability. Ottawa, June 9-10, 2005.

Quigley, B. A. (2006). Building professional pride in literacy. Malabar, FL: Krieger.

Rodrigues, L. L., & Craig, R. (2007). Assessing international accounting harmonization using Hegelian dialectic, isomorphism and Foucault. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 18, 739-757

Swift, J. (1999). Civil society in question. Toronto: Between the Lines.

Tamboukou, M. (2003). Women, education and the self: A Foucauldian perspective. London: Palgrave, Macmillan.

Tisdell, E.J., Taylor, E.W., & Sprow, K. (2011). Culturally responsive community based financial literacy education: Practical implications from a mixed methods study of financial educators. Proceedings of CASAE and AERC, Toronto,

Treleaven, L. (2004). A knowledge- sharing approach to organizational change: A critical discourse analysis. In H. Tsoukas & N. Mylonopoulos (Eds.), Organizations as knowledge systems: Knowledge, learning and dynamic capabilities (pp. 154-180). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.




How to Cite

English, L. (2012). Financial Literacy and Academics: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 25(1), 17–30.