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Analysing the language of critique

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The sample essay is concerned with critically analysing explanations for rising divorce. The process of critical analysis, as we have discussed, involves both summarising and evaluating these explanations. As an example of this, look at the essay's coverage of Nicky Hart's ideas in Paragraph 4.

First, which sentences in Paragraph 4 would you say are concerned with summarising Hart's ideas?



Check your answers.

Sentences 2-5 are concerned with summary. Summarising is signalled by such expressions as:

Nicky Hart (cited in Haralambos, 1995) argues that ...



Hart suggests ...



According to Hart ...



Which sentences in Paragraph 4 are concerned with evaluating Hart's ideas?



Check your answers.

Sentences 6-7 are concerned with evaluation. Evaluation is signalled by such expressions as:

It would appear that Hart's explanation cannot account for ...



Her approach would seem to be more probing than ...



What parts of speech can help you distinguish the two functions of summarising and evaluating?

Check your answers.

Summary sections in texts tend to use verb constructions (Hart argues that ...; Hart suggests ...).

When evaluating, on the other hand, you need to distinguish between the original writer's approach and your own view. Thus, noun constructions tend to be more common. (Hart's explanation ...; her approach).

Paragraph 4

[1] Another type of explanation is one that focuses precisely on these broad societal changes. [2] For example, Nicky Hart (cited in Haralambos, 1995) argues that increases in divorce and marital breakdown are the result of economic changes that have affected the family. [3] One example of these changes is the raised material aspirations of families, which Hart suggests has put pressure on both spouses to become wage earners. [4] Women as a result have been forced to become both homemakers and economic providers. [5] According to Hart, the contradiction of these two roles has lead to conflict and this is the main cause of marital breakdown. [6] It would appear that Hart's explanation cannot account for all cases of divorce - for example, marital breakdown is liable to occur in families where only the husband is working. [7] Nevertheless, her approach, which is to relate changes in family relations to broader social forces, would seem to be more probing than one that looks only at legislative change.

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