This paper consists of two parts. In Part A, some of the dominant discourses on distance education are briefly identified and discussed. While there are several dominant discourses in contemporary distance education, this paper argues that policy making is generally influenced by what Finlay (1987: 336-337) implied was a disintegtated, a priori, positivist and reaffirming paradigm. This type of paradigm necessarily presents decision makers with a limited number of options. Given the opinion that such limited options need to be expanded, an alternative discursive paradigm for distance education policy making is proposed. This alternative places distance education within its specific social context. Part B contains a report of a current research project aimed at identifying the influences of the dominant discourses in policy making in distance education in Australia since 1988. A brief description of the case study methodology utilised in the project is presented together with a set of experimental questions and related hypotheses.