Authoritative sensemaking in a public inquiry report

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This paper attempts a discourse analysis of the Cullen Report into the Piper Alpha disaster in order to research how public inquiries seek to represent their efforts to make sense of events as authoritative. It is argued that inquiry reports are highly convention-governed sensemaking narratives that employ various forms of verisimilitude in order to bolster their authority. They are also monological storytelling performances that function hegemonically to impose a particular version of reality on their readers. The investigation of the means by which inquiry reports attempt to accomplish verisimilitude and hegemony are important as they may shed light on how this form of public discourse seeks to depoliticise disaster events, legitimate social institutions, and lessen anxieties by concocting myths that emphasize our omnipotence and capacity to control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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