When is a debt not a debt? A discourse analysis of defining debt and accounting for personal experiences: a student sample.
Hannah Brear dissertation 2014.docx (56.94Kb)
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In this study, we examine how current students discuss debt and their personal experiences in interviews. Previous research has suggested that the term ‘debt’ is not linguistically neutral (Lewis & Scott, 1999). The financial situation in the UK has led to an increase in student debt and has had substantial impact on this particular group. A discursive psychological approach is taken, drawing upon conversation analysis to investigate how language is used to define the meaning of the term ‘debt’ and to construct accounts of individual experience. The analysis focuses on responses to four questions about debt experience, feelings towards debt and whether some types are better or worse. This study identifies key features used by participants to dismiss debt, play down worry and distinguish the student loan from other debt. The practical implications of these findings are considered, along with how the study builds on existing research about student debt.