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Discourse Analysis

Postmodernism, Conversation Analysis, Ethnomethodology, Mundane Reasoning, Membership Categorization, Sequential Analysis

Discourse analysis is an important theme in postmodernism especially for writers like Michel Foucault for whom it is important to analyze how people talk about the world around them.

The central idea is that the way people talk about the world does not reflect some objective truth about that world, but instead reflects the success of particular ways of thinking and seeing.

These ways of thinking and seeing tend to become invisible, because they are simply assumed to be truthful and right, and in this way people's thought processes themselves can come to represent and reinforce particular regimes of power and coercion.

Discourse Analysis Means Analysing Discourse: Some Comments On Antaki, Billig, Edwards And Potter 'Discourse Analysis Means Doing Analysis: A Critique Of Six Analytic Shortcomings' - Erica Burman - Discourse Unit/Women's Studies Research Centre, Department of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Manchester Metropolitan University
Abstract: In this paper I discuss the 'six analytic shortcomings' of discourse analytic work identified by Antaki et al. as concerned with contextual and part-whole relations.

I then move on to offer three more addressing questions of location: under-analysis through uncontested readings, under-analysis through decontextualisation and underanalysis through not having a question. I suggest that, while Antaki et al. have usefully highlighted some prevalent limitations on current, especially introductory, work put forward as discourse analysis, their analysis benefits from some further elaboration in order to acknowledge and refer to the wider spectrum of discursive approaches.

Discourse Analysis Means Doing Analysis: A Critique Of Six Analytic Shortcomings
Charles Antaki, Michael Billig, Derek Edwards, Jonathan Potter - Discourse and Rhetoric Group
Abstract: A number of ways of treating talk and textual data are identified which fall short of discourse analysis. They are: (1) under-analysis through summary; (2) under-analysis through taking sides; (3) under-analysis through over-quotation or through isolated quotation; (4) the circular identification of discourses and mental constructs; (5) false survey; and (6) analysis that consists in simply spotting features. We show, by applying each of these to an extract from a recorded interview, that none of them actually analyse the data. We hope that illustrating shortcomings in this way will encourage further development of rigorous discourse analysis in social psychology.

Education and the Knowledge-Based Economy in Europe by Bob Jessop, Norman Fairclough, and Ruth Wodak - The papers in this collection apply a range of approaches to discourse analysis, as well as narrative policy analysis, and several contributors use a cultural political economy perspective which incorporates a version of critical discourse analysis.

Context is/as Critique - Jan Blommaert, Ghent University, Belgium 
In this article the treatment of context in two schools of contemporary discourse analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Conversation Analysis (CA), is discussed. Starting from the observation that critical trends in discourse analysis identify the intersection of language and social structure as the locus of critique, I first qualify the treatment of context in some Critical Discourse Analysis work as largely backgrounding and narrative. Contextual information that invites critical scrutiny is often accepted as 'mere facts', framing the discourse samples analyzed in Critical Discourse Analysis. On the other hand, context is reduced to a minimal set of observable and demonstrably consequential features of single conversations in Conversation Analysis, and 'translocal' phenomena are hard to incorporate in Conversation Analysis. Both treatments of context have severe defects, and in the second part of the article I offer three sets of 'forgotten contexts': contexts that are usually overlooked in critical discourse studies but that offer considerable critical potential because they situate discourse deeply in social structure and social processes.

Action-Implicative Discourse Analysis - Karen Tracy, University of Colorado, Boulder 
Action-implicative discourse analysis is the name for a new type of discourse analysis, developed to be useful in the critique and cultivation of communicative practices in society. Action-implicative discourse analysis seeks to characterize the communicative problems, conversational techniques, and situated ideals of communicative practices. By comparing and contrasting action-implicative discourse analysis with four markedly different discourse analytic approaches - conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, critical discourse analysis, and discursive psychology - the article seeks to make the methodological approach's distinctive character visible. The article's final section explicates criteria that could be used in assessing interpretive discourse approaches generally, and action-implicative discourse analysis in particular.

Defining and Defending ‘Unhealthy’ Practices 
A Discourse Analysis of Chocolate 'Addicts' Accounts 
Rebecca Benford, Brendan Gough 
Ideals of health and nutrition conspire to render the consumption of chocolate and similar snacks problematic. Individuals who self-define as ‘chocoholics’ present an opportunity to investigate how unhealthy acts are defined and defended in a health-conscious climate. Reports on an interview-based study with five self-professed chocoholics. A Foucauldian form of discourse analysis was applied to the interview transcripts and four main discourses identified: chocolate as dirty and dangerous; chocolate as pleasure; self-surveillance; and addiction. Function of such discourses in terms of upholding the moral status of these individuals is discussed.

Discourses in the European Commission’s 1996–2000 Health Promotion Programme 
Catherine Marie Sykes, Carla Willig, David F. Marks, Department of Psychology, City University.
This article is a discourse analysis of ‘The Community Action Programme on Health Promotion, Information, Education and Training 1996–2000’. The analysis uses six stages to discourse analysis. A religious discourse is used to construct the Programme and a military discourse is used to construct its implementation. These discourses are embedded in a scientific discourse. Analysis reveals that despite rhetorical endorsement of the concept of empowerment, this Programme disempowers through vagueness, clear hierarchies of power and an emphasis on scientific methods of evaluation. The analysis also reveals that there is a shift in blame in recent health promotion policy, the reflection is now on the collective as opposed to individual behaviour.

Discourse and Text: Linguistic and Intertextual Analysis within Discourse Analysis 
Norman Fairclough, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY 
This paper is an argument for systematic textual analysis as a part of discourse analysis, and an attempt to stimulate debate on this issue between different approaches to discourse analysis. Two types of textual analysis are distinguished: linguistic analysis and intertextual analysis. On the basis of a reanalysis of data samples in papers published in the first four issues of Discourse & Society, the paper argues that diverse approaches to discourse analysis can be enhanced through systematic use of these two forms of analysis, even those which claim a concern with the content rather than the form of texts.

Critical Discourse Analysis and the Marketization of Public Discourse: The Universities - Norman Fairclough, Univ Lancaster 
This paper sets out the author's view of discourse analysis and illustrates the approach with an analysis of discursive aspects of marketization of public discourse in contemporary Britain, specifically in higher education. It includes a condensed theoretical account of critical discourse analysis, a framework for analysing discursive events, and a discussion of discursive practices (including their marketization) in late capitalist society, as well as analysis of samples of the discourse of higher education. The paper concludes with a discussion of the value of critical discourse analysis as a method in social scientific research.

Cultural Studies, Critical Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis: Histories, Remembering and Futures - Terry Threadgold
Abstract: In this paper I have explored some of the histories which inevitably connect, but also differentiate, critical discourse analysis and cultural studies. I have argued that both are strongly influenced by the versions of critical theory which have been characterised as ‘postmodernism’ and ‘poststructuralism’ and that both could benefit not only from some serious engagement with the several disciplines from which their interdisciplinarity is derived. I have also argued that the claims sometimes made for critical discourse analysis are inflated. On the other hand ‘resignification’ or the cultural politics of critical discourse analysis are important agendas and we need to do much more work on establishing exactly how social change can be effected through the kinds of work critical discourse analysis could do. My conclusion is that we need to reframe and recontextualise the ways in which we define and perform critical discourse analysis and that that will involve bringing cultural studies and critical discourse analysis together in productive new ways with other disciplinary and theoretical formations.

The implication of visual research for discourse analysis: transcription beyond language - Sigrid Norris, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 
This article identifies some limitations of discourse analysis by analyzing interactions between five boys in which the TV and the computer are featured as mediational means. The incorporation of several modalities into transcripts and a shift in focus from primarily language to human action facilitate a better understanding of the multi-modal interaction involved. The use of conventional transcripts with a focus on language demonstrates that movie-mediated interactions and computer-mediated interactions appear fragmented; by contrast, an inclusion of images into the transcripts, representing central interactions and/or images of a movie or computer screen, demonstrates the significant visual modes that are imperative to the ongoing talk. Just as written words correspond to the oral language, images can exemplify the global interaction among the participants, or they can represent the images on the screen. In addition, viewing an image is much faster than reading a description, so that these images also display the fast pace of the movie-mediated interaction and/or computer-mediated interaction.

Discourse Analysis and Social Relationships in Social Work - JOHN J. RODGER 
Summary: Following a description of the criticism made of contract approaches from the perspective of discourse analysis, the paper draws a distinction between the focus of discourse analysis on the constitution of knowledges and the ethnomethodological project of studying how knowledgeable human beings negotiate meaning through social interaction. I argue that we need a discourse analysis grounded in social relationships.

Constructing Immigrants - A Historical Discourse Analysis of the Representations of Immigrants in US Social Work, 1882-1952 - Yoosun Park, Smith College School for Social Work, USA 
Summary: This study analyzes the representations of immigrants found in three US social work periodicals published between 1882 and 1952. Beginning from Foucault’s notion of the ‘history of the present’, an approach to history which examines the past in order to illuminate a present-day problematic, and using textual analysis techniques provided by Jacques Derrida, this work of historical discourse analysis traces the discursive constructions of identity through which immigrants were problematized as particular kinds of subjects in social work discourse.

Evaluating Narrative Essays: a Discourse Analysis Perspective 
Siew-Mei Wu, Adult Migrant Education Service Melbourne Australia 
This paper presents a case study of the use of a narrative discourse model (Labov and Waletzky 1967) to provide a more objective assessment of two ESL compositions. The model allows a clause by clause analysis to demonstrate the discourse function of each clause within the narratives. A comparative analysis which describes the overall narrative structures of the two stories is also presented. The evaluation of the narrative quality of the essays using the model as a guide seems to be consistent with the impressionistic marks awarded by the ESL teacher. Research has shown that the quality of a text is enhanced by grammatical patterns within the sentence as well as patterns of discourse organisation beyond the sentence. Thus, insights from discourse analysis research can provide the writing teacher with ideas for a more discourse oriented approach in the classroom.

Discourse Analysis in General Practice: A Sociolinguistic Approach 
Nessa J and Malterud K. - Family Practice 1990; 7: 77–83. 
It is a simple but important fact that as general practitioners we talk to our patients. The quality of the conversation is of vital importance for the outcome of the consultation. The purpose of this article is to discuss a methodological tool borrowed from sociolinguistics, discourse analysis. To assess the suitability of this method for analysis of general practice consultations, the authors have performed a discourse analysis of one single consultation.

Reflexivity and Critique in Discourse Analysis 
Mary Bucholtz, Texas A&M University 
Within linguistic anthropology, the anthropological concern with reflexivity and critique emerges most explicitly in debates over discourse analysis. Through critical discussion of the contributions to this two-part special issue, several dominant approaches to discourse - including critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, and natural histories of discourse - are assessed for their ability to yield insights into culture and power. It is suggested that an ethnographically grounded discourse analysis can be critically effective not only within linguistic anthropology but within anthropology more generally.

Teaching ‘with an attitude’: Critical Discourse Analysis in EFL teaching 
Josep M. Cots 
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) sees discourse as a form of ‘social practice’, in which language use is seen at the same time as socially influenced and influential. Another characteristic of critical discourse analysis is that it is engaged and committed; it intervenes in social practice and attempts to reveal connections between language use, power, and ideology. The critical approach to language study is consistent with a view of education which prioritizes the development of the learners' capacities to examine and judge the world carefully. These views of language and education respectively are all too often absent from foreign language programmes. The main principles and notions of critical discourse analysis are introduced in this article.

Discourse analysis and literary interpretation: a reply to H. Sopher - Tony Deyes 
The present article refers to a contribution to ELT Journal Vol. 35.3 (pp. 328–33) by H. Sopher, entitled ‘Discourse analysis as an aid to literary interpretation’. The present author, while agreeing with Sopher's interpretation of the story analysed, argues that such an interpretation is more clearly supported by a surface structure analysis. The present author demonstrates that a macro-structure analysis was not shown to be as ’objective‘ as Sopher claimed.

Organizational Discourse Analysis: Avoiding the Determinism– Voluntarism Trap 
Charles Conrad, Texas A&M University, USA 
Drawing on Alvesson and Karreman’s (2000) analysis of the methodological problems facing organizational discourse analysis, this commentary examines the four primary essays in this special issue in terms of their ability to deal adequately with micro-discourse, mesodiscourse, grand discourse, and mega-discourse.

Justification, Legitimization and Naturalization of Mergers and Acquisitions: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Texts 
Eero Vaara, Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, Finland
Janne Tienari, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland
This article concentrates on the discursive construction of mergers and acquisitions in the media. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, the article focuses on justification, legitimization and naturalization processes in three historically significant cases in the Finnish media. The analysis reveals four distinctive discourse types - 'rationalistic', 'cultural', 'societal' and 'individualistic' - and elaborates their structural characteristics. The analysis shows that rationalistic discourses typically dominate discussion, while the other discourses are subordinated to the rationalistic discursive practices. This usually means justification of particular merger or acquisition deals and legitimization of specific actions taken by management.

Multimodality, resemiotization: extending the analysis of discourse as multi-semiotic practice - Rick A M Iedema, University of New South Wales 
This article has the following two overarching aims. First, it traces the development of multimodal discourse analysis and sets out its main descriptive and analytical parameters; in doing so, the article highlights the specific advantages which the multimodal approach has to offer and exemplifies its application. The article also argues that the hierarchical arrangement of different semiotics (in the way common sense construes this) should not be lost from sight. Second, and related to this last point, the article will advance a complementary perspective to that of multimodality: resemiotization.

Europe as a Discursive Battleground - Discourse Analysis and European Integration Studies - THOMAS DIEZ 
Problems of European integration and governance are increasingly analysed from a discursive perspective. Two analytical strands, the Copenhagen and the Governance School, are discussed in depth, both of which in their own ways look at the possibility of legitimately articulating a particular conception of Europe (and governance). Out of this discussion, and taking on board the ideas of German 'radical constructivists' as well as discourse analysts Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the article develops the analytical concept of 'discursive nodal points'. This concept helps in addressing the problems of the status of European policy in relation to discourse, the national focus in many discourse analyses, and the limitations of conceptualizing change.

Peripheral Vision - Discourse Analysis in Organization Studies: The Case for Critical Realism - Norman Fairclough, Lancaster
Although studies of organization certainly need to include analysis of discourse, one prominent tendency within current research on organizational discourse limits its value for organizational studies through a commitment to postmodernism and extreme versions of social constructivism. I argue that a version of critical discourse analysis based on a critical realist social ontology is potentially of greater value to organization studies, and I refer in particular to the contribution it can make to research on organizational change.

Incomplete Determinism: A Discourse Analysis of Cybernetic Futurology in Early Cyberculture - Sheryl N. Hamilton 
Using Foucauldian discourse analysis, this paper examines five temporal regularities produced in emergent cyberculture discourse in the immediate post-WWII period in the United States. The construction of entropy as social; the understanding of systemic change in evolutionary terms; the embrace of the present as a revolutionary historical discontinuity; the adoption of a machine standard of condensed time; and the shaping of memory as a notion of performative efficiency, work to shape a particular vision of time and the future. The cybernetic futurology which emerges has continued power/knowledge effects within the discursive formation of cyberculture.

Education and the Knowledge-Based Economy in Europe by Bob Jessop, Norman Fairclough, and Ruth Wodak - This book addresses the recent impact of the ‘knowledge-based economy’ as an economic ‘imaginary’ and as a set of real economic developments on education, and especially higher education in Europe, including educational strategies and policies such as those of the Bologna process on a European scale. The contributors come from various disciplinary backgrounds (education, history, linguistics, sociology) but share a commitment to trans-disciplinary research and a view that changes in educational policy and practice can productively be researched with a focus on discourse. The papers in this collection apply a range of approaches to discourse analysis, as well as narrative policy analysis, and several contributors use a cultural political economy perspective which incorporates a version of critical discourse analysis.

Discourse Analysis Means Analysing Discourse.