MULTIMODAL CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF SYSTEMATICALLY DISTORTED COMMUNICATION IN INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION INDUSTRY WEBSITES
Carter, Diane Louise
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This study addresses the question of whether U.S. intercountry adoption system web page texts discursively construct orphaned foreign children and the practice of intercountry adoption in ways that support the interests of social elites at the expense of members of marginalized social goups. I conducted a multimodal critical discourse analysis of web page texts using the discourse-historical method. I found that four types of systematically distorted communication (naturalization, neutralization, subjectification, and pacification) functioned individually and in tandem to reinforce capitalist ideology by constructing children's bodies as a legitimate medium of exchange while precluding all but token attempts to address the ways in which the large amount of money that flows through the system contribute to child trafficking. I argue that this cycle of commodification could be eliminated if the United States outlawed payment of per-child program fees to foreign agents. My analysis further revealed four additional processes of systematically distorted communication (legitimation, disqualification, topical avoidance, and meaning denial) in web page texts that repeatedly invoked the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, commonly referred to as the Hague Convention, to legitimate government encroachment into the private realm of the family. I conclude that government may have an appropriate role in intercountry adoption, but only if the practice is redefined from one in which prospective parents attempt to overcome the social stigma of childlessness to a means of challenging social inequity in the U.S. and abroad. To this end, I propose that federal law be amended to require agencies to offer more comprehensive pre-adoptive training and to provide families with subsidized, long-term access to post-adoption services.