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Teaching Presentation
University of the Incarnate Word
Deborah Poole

What is Discourse?
Conversation a verbal interchange of
ideas (this is a behavioral event with an
individual purpose). (Hardison, 2011, August 11)
Stretch of language perceived to be
meaningful, unified and on purpose.



A mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or

experience that isrootedin language and its
concrete contexts (as history or institutions)

Discourse in linguistics, narratology and literary

theory is a social event of multi-layered
communication in a variety of media (verbal,
textual, visual, audial) that has an interactive

Discourse in research
Discourse refers to actual practices of talking and writing.
interrelated set of texts, and the practices of their production,
dissemination, and reception, that brings an object into being.
Ex. Collection of texts that make up discourse of psychiatry brought the idea of
an unconscious into existence in the 19th century.

Social reality is produced and made real through discourses,

and social interactions cannot be fully understood without
reference to the discourses that give them meaning.
Discourse analysts explore the relationship between discourse
and reality.
(Phillips & Hardy,

Types of Discourse Analysis





(Phillips & Hardy,

the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted
by a dominant group (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hegemony)
The termhegemonyis often used to describe the relatively
dominant position of a particular set of ideas and their
associated tendency to become commonsensical and intuitive,
thereby inhibiting the dissemination or even the articulation of
alternative ideas. The associated term hegemonis used to
identify the actor, group, class, or state that exercises
hegemonic power or that is responsible for the dissemination
of hegemonic ideas. (http://www.britannica.com)

Where did Critical Discourse Analysis come from?

Analysis (CDA)


Neomarxist cultural theory the assumption that these

discourses are produced within
political economies -articulate
broader ideological interests
Poststructuralism discourse Bourdieus sociology - the
operates across institutions, and assumption that interactions
texts have a constructive
with texts become
function in shaping human
embodied forms of
cultural capital
view Vygotsky
Post war developments Critical Linguistics -the
Frankfurt School, Jurgen
Habermas, Critical

linguistics theory
(Halliday, 1985)

Michel Foucaults (1975,

1982) formulation of
orders of discourse and

Wittgenstein (1967) and

Winch (1958) -language is
more than simple reflection of
reality but is in fact constitutive
of social reality


determinism as
inspired by Anthony
Giddens (1984) theory
of structuration

Gramscis (1971)
notion of

Louis Althussers
(1971) concepts of
ideological state
apparatuses and

of Language

Origins of CDA
CDA became known through group of European researchers primarily
Norman Fairclough, Ruth Wodak, and Teun van Dijk. (Blommaert, 2005)
Norman Faircloughs Language and Power (1989) is commonly considered
to be the landmark publication for the start of CDA. (Blommaert, 2005)
Fairclough advocated a three tier organization of social life to address lack of
a unitary theoretical framework for CDA. Social events (micro level) are
linked to social structures (macro level) by mediating social practices (meso
level). Discourse is a part of all three levels. (Weninger, 2008)
Through their privileged access to outlets of public discourse, elites play an
instrumental role in the shaping of public opinion and the production and
maintenance of discriminatory and biased beliefs, attitudes and ideologies.
(Weninger, 2008)

Discourses produce a perception and representation of social reality.
This representation forms part of hegemonic strategy of establishing
dominant interpretations of reality.
CDA employs the epistemological view of constitution.
Critical discourse analysis assumes that there is an ontological
distinction- gap between discourse and reality and tries to bridge the
gap by representation.

(Packer, 2011)


Primary Methods of Data Collection

Data collection is not a specific phase to be completed before
analysis begins. (Wodak & Meyer, 2009)
The specific social domain will also partly determine what kinds
of data are to be analyzed. No rules exist for how much data
is enough. (Weninger, 2008)
Analysts can choose to look at how a particular event is
reported in several newspapers, compare two textbooks for
ideological content, or critically examine a single political
debate. (Weninger, 2008)
CDA research should be conducted within an ethnographic
framework or within an institutional framework in which the
given social practice is embedded. (Weninger, 2008)
The principal unit of analysis is the text. Texts are taken to be
social actions, meaningful and coherent instances of spoken
and written language use. (Luke, 1997)

Collecting Data - questions

What texts are most important in constructing the
object of analysis?
What texts are produced by the most powerful actors,
transmitted through the most effective channels, and
interpreted by the most recipients?
Which of the above texts are available for analysis?
Which of the above texts is it feasible to analyze?
How will I sample these texts?
How will I explain the choices I have made?
Data can include interviews, focus groups, documents,
records, political speeches, newspaper articles,
cartoons, novels, textbooks, even social media and
internet pages.
(Phillips & Hardy, 2002)

Collecting Data
Texts are not meaningful individually it is through their interconnection
with other texts and the nature of their production, dissemination and
consumption that they are made meaningful.
To understand why a particular person is a refugee we need to explore how
discourses such as asylum, immigration, humanitarianism, and sovereignty
among others serve to make sense of the concept of a refugee.
To learn how such discourses have evolved over time, we can study texts such as
cartoons, newspaper articles, and international conventions.
We must also examine the social context wars, natural disaster, court decisions,
international agreements, government, political events in other countries to see
how they affect particular discursive events.
This interplay between text, discourse, and context helps us to understand not
only how an individual comes to be a refugee, but also how the broader reality
of refugee policy and refugee determination procedures is constructed and
(Phillips & Hardy, 2002, p.5)

Critical Analysis of Discourse

Other standardized methods are not necessarily appropriate for discourse
Goal is to identify the multiple meanings assigned to texts.
Recipes for successful data analysis are therefore difficult to provide.
The breadth of discourse analysis techniques and the diversity of the
phenomena under investigation mean that the form that analysis takes will
vary from study to study.
As a result, researchers need to develop an approach that makes sense in
the light of their particular study and establish a set of arguments to justify
that approach.

(Phillips & Hardy, 2002, p.5)

Critical Analysis of Discourse

Linguistic (grammatical) analysis constitutes a core element of most CDA
research. The type of study conducted depends on the data available and
the type of relevant discourse structures.
Texts can be examined for a number of properties which reflect their
ideological shaping.
To see how certain people or events are discursively represented
Types of processes associated with particular people and look for
patterned differences
Analyze the argumentation structure of a text and its rhetorical
Analyze text according to source of legitimation the author uses to
support points and claims
Examination of modality (e.g. modal verbs, hedges) can shed light
on whether the information is conveyed as fact, a possibility or an
Studies that look at conversational interaction will have additional

(Weninger, 2008)

Fairclough (1992) provided a threedimensional framework for conceiving of and
analyzing discourse

(Blommaert, 2005)

Narrative must ensure the readers understand why and how
the findings are legitimate.
Validity the idea that the research closely captures the real world is
not relevant when epistemological and ontological assumptions
maintain that there is no real world other than one constructed
through discourse.
Reliability the idea that the results are repeatable is nonsensical
when one is interested in generating and exploring multiple and
different readings of a situation.

How well the evidence is presented to demonstrate the

arguments, how plausible the findings are, and how profound
the analytic scheme is in helping readers make sense of
discourse will be important.
(Phillips & Hardy, 2002)

Learning Example
Janks, H. (1997). Critical discourse analysis as a
research tool. Discourse: studies in the cultural
politics of education, 18(3), 329-342.

TEXT: Standard Bank's Domestic Promise

Plan which appeared in the Weekly Mail
and Guardian in 1994.
Begin by looking for patterns to
hypothesize about discourses at work in
Try to confirm or disconfirm hypotheses
by looking for other related texts
Identify what social relations and
discourses are involved

Learning Example
Note never possible to read meaning
directly off the verbal and visual
textual signs. Meaning is determined
by context and relationships.
Who is the narrator?
Whose baby is baby Jay?
South African women with paradigm of
domestics might assume employer
women with fears of aging might
assume its the narrators own baby
that wont need her any longer

What visual signs tell you something

about the narrator?

Learning Example

Some Visual signs

Pensiveness is evoked by position of her hand

cupping her chin in the pose associated with Rodins
Burglar bars on the window are suggestive of
imprisonment but they are also shaped in the form
of the cross
Cross could be seen to reinforce the suggestion of
suffering created by the bars and to underscore the
sense of hope created by the light that comes from
Hope is lexicalized as a promise in the retirement
Woman is not looking at the viewer we are not
drawn into relating to her - she is presented as an
object for reflection
The soft tints, the pensive pose, and the woman
seems to be looking backward from a Western leftright approach create uncertainty in semiotic terms.
Composition of article sets up a preferred reading
The womans hand leads the viewers eye down to

Learning Example Analyzing the Verbal Signs

How is uncertainty conveyed?
Text is set up in patterns of certainty and
uncertainty dichotomy of knowing and not
knowing reinforced by middle column

What does use of first-person narrative do?

Use of first person narrative works to humanize
the domestic worker as a subject and a
potential agent

Who is the addressee in the text? Who is

The texts ambivalence to the addressee is
significant and seems to reflect an uncertainty
with regard to the changing positions of
domestics. These shifts manifest as
discoursal shifts from a paternalistic discourse
of domestics as servants who need to be
cared for, to a liberal discourse of workers as
independent human beings with needs, and
possibly to a labor discourse of workers rights.

Learning Example Analyzing the Verbal Signs

Who has a name in the text?
Mrs. Lambert and baby Jay

What type of word choices indicate which

discourse is used?
Different lexical selections (girl, servant, maid,
domestic) can signal different discourses such
as colonial, liberal, or labor discourses

Janks (1997) argued that the hybridity of this

text provides evidence for values in transition
Transitivity analysis can reveal the racist
discourse of paternalism
Doing,(material) , Saying (verbal),
Sensing (mental), Being (relational),
Behaving (behavioral), Things that exist

Author used Hallidays Introduction to Functional

Grammar (1985)

Learning Example Transivity analysis

The domestic worker having few material
processes suggests that she is unable to
act except with the permission of or in the
service of her employer.
Her employer acts and speaks at will. The
domestic worker says nothing. She is in a
one-way conversation at the receiving end
of Mrs. Lamberts speech.
Of interest is the patterned alignment
between the domestic worker and the baby.
They are the only participants whose
processes are mental, behavioral and
relational. Thus in the transivity structure
one can see the domestic worker
constructed as a baby who needs to be
taken care of.
The transivity analysis reveals the
infantalization of human subjects which is
the result of paternalism.

Summary - Faircloughs 3 step process

When to Use
When you want to understand how language in
use constructs and constitutes realities
When you want to understand how discourse
constructs identities in relation to power and
When you want to understand the connection
between power and knowledge
how processes of social construction lead to
a social reality that is taken for granted and
that advantages some participants at the
expense of others

(Phillips & Hardy,


Some Final Thoughts

Discourses constitute what Wittgenstein called forms of life,
ubiquitous ways of knowing, valuing and experiencing the world.
They can be used for the assertion of power and knowledge and they
can be used for purposes of resistance and critique.
They are used in everyday local texts for building productive power
and knowledge and for purposes of regulation and normalization, for
the development of new knowledge and power relations, and for
If we accept the poststructuralist view of primacy of discourse, then
critical discourse analysis is necessary for describing and interpreting,
analyzing and critiquing social life.
(Luke, 1997)

Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse: Key topics in sociolinguistics. New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Cots, J. M. (2006). Teaching with an attitude: Critical discourse analysis in EFL
teaching. ELT Journal, 60(4), 336-345.
Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and Power. New York: Longman, Inc.
Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). Hallidays introduction to functional grammar. Hachette, UK:
Hodder Education.
Hardison, K. P. (2011, August 11). Guide to Literary Terms. Retrieved from
Hyatt, D. (2013). The critical policy discourse analysis frame: Helping doctoral students
engage with the educational policy analysis. Teaching in Higher Education, (18)8,
833-845. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2013.795935

Janks, H. (1997). Critical discourse analysis as a research tool. Discourse: studies in the cultural
politics of education, 18(3), 329-342.
Luke, A. (1997). Theory and practice in critical discourse analysis. In Saha, L. (Ed.) International
encyclopedia of the sociology of education (pp. 50-57). Elsevier Science Ltd.
Packer, M. (2011). The science of qualitative research. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Phillips, N. & Hardy, C. (2002). Discourse analysis: Investigating processes of social
construction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Van Dijk, T. (1993). Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse & Society, 4(2), 249-283.
Weninger, C. (2008). Critical discourse analysis. In Given, L. (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of
qualitative research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (2009). Critical discourse analysis: History, agenda, theory, and
methodology. In Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (Eds.), Methods for Critical Discourse Analysis. Los
Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Learning Resources
*Case, R. (2005). How to conduct a critical discourse analysis of a text: A guide for teachers. The CATESOL Journal, 17(1),
*Covaleski, M. A., Dirsmith, M. W., Heian, J. B., & Sajay, S. (1998). The calculated and the avowed: Techniques of discipline
and struggles over identity in the Big Six public accounting firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 43, 293-327.
Dick, P. (2004). Discourse analysis. In Cassell, C. & Symon, G. (Eds.), Essential guide to qualitative methods in
organizational research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc
Fairclough, N. (1985). Critical and descriptive goals in discourse analysis. Journal of Pragmatics, 9, 739-763.
Fairclough, N., Graham, P., Lemke, J., & Wodak, R. (2004). Introduction. Critical Discourse Studies (1)1, 1-7.
Johnson, E. (2005). Proposition 203: a critical metaphor analysis. Bilingual Research Journal, 29(1), 69-83.
Lichtman, M. (2013). Qualitative research in education: A user's guide (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Machin, D., & Mayr, A. (2012). How to do critical discourse analysis: A multimodal introduction. Los Angeles: Sage
Nakagawa, K., & Arzubiaga, A. (2014). The use of social media in teaching race. Adult Learning, 25(3), 103-110.
Olssen, M. (2006). Foucault and the imperatives of education: Critique and self-creation in a non-foundational world.
Studies in Philosophy and Education, 25, 245-271.
*Sowinska, A. (2013). A critical discourse approach to the analysis of values in political discourse: The example of freedom
in President Bushs State of the Union addresses (2001-2008). Discourse & Society, 24(6), 792-809.

More Learning Resources

What is Discourse Analysis?

Non-Critical view

Critical view

Description of natural spoken or written

discourse (Cots, 2006)

Analysis of how texts work within specific

socio-cultural practices (Cots, 2006)

How social reality came into being

through the constructive effects of
various discourses and associated texts

Explanation of how discourse is shaped

by relations of power and ideology and is
used to construct social identities, social
relations, and systems of knowledge and
belief. (Cots, 2006)

(Phillips & Hardy, 2002)

Generally defined by 1) anything beyond

the sentence, 2) language in use, and 3)
a broader range of social practices that
includes nonlinguistic and nonspecific
instances of language. (Packer, 2011, p.246)

Describe what structures, strategies, or

other properties of text, talk, verbal
interaction or communicative events play
a role in various modes of reproducing
social inequality.
(Van Dijk, 1993)

What is Critical Discourse Analysis?

Main assumptions of critical discourse analysis (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997)
Addresses social problems
Treats power relations as discursive
Sees discourse as constituting society and culture
As doing ideological work
As historical
As a form of social action
Sees the link between text and society as mediated
Offers a form of analysis that is interpretive and explanatory

Citizens of a community determine how they will live together. Humans actualize
their capacities by living together with others. Communities constitute the people
who live in them. Constitution is the relationship of mutual formation between
people and their forms of life. (Packer, 2011, p.10)
Journals for further reading
Discourse and Society edited by Teun van Dijk
Critical Discourse Studies edited by Norman Fairclough

Different approaches to Critical Discourse Analysis

(Wodak & Meyer,


Ways of Analyzing

(Hyatt, 2013)

Follow the policy and its impact through a series of interactions

and subsequent re-contextualizations.

How it is justified, the authority or reasonable grounds

established for some act, course of action, statement or belief
evidentiary (prior evidence), accountability (based on outcome),
political (public good)

Intertextuality identifiable borrowing from other texts especially key

figures to imply legitimacy

Evaluation expression of the speaker/writers attitude/feelings

towards entities or propositions he/she is talking about. Words like
reform, liberalization, decentralization, deregulation, innovation
appear to be neutral descriptive terms but are not.


Process of naturalization in which language acts as a social

control agent, through which members of society are
conditioned to accept conventions and practices that may not be
in their best interests. These language practices are
represented as common sense, inevitable and beyond challenge.
Modes of legitimation how policies are justified to their
audience by attachment to dominant norms and values

Authorization reference to tradition, custom, authority,

law, institutional authority
Rationalization reference to value and usefulness of
social action and the cognitive and face-validity of a
particular action
Moral Evaluation an appeal to a value system around
what is good desirable ideological and linked to
Mythopoesis or legitimation through narratives moral and
cautionary tales advising us as to the negative/positive

The use of negative questions which presuppose a certain

answer isnt it the case that wouldnt it be fair to say

The use of factive verbs, adjectives, adverbs, that presuppose

their grammatical complements and present them as facts
we now know, we realize, we discovered that, as you are
aware, obviously

The use of change state verbs which presuppose the factuality

of a previous state - we have stopped wasting money on
unnecessary welfare, this school has improved, and so on.

Lexico-grammatical construction

Pronouns can be used to include or exclude groups (us and

them) or obscure the identity of the group constructed

Present simple tense constructs an event as reality or fact (it is

only through learning that individuals have the power to shape
their own lives)

Past simple tense can represent a past event as no longer

important (the last governments program was never extended
to primaries)


Lexical - of or relating to words or the vocabulary of a

Dialectic - discussion and reasoning bydialogueas a method of

intellectual investigation;specificallythe Socratic techniques
of exposing false beliefs and eliciting truth any systematic
reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed
or contradictory ideas and usually seeks to resolve their
conflict; an intellectual exchange of ideas; the dialectical
tension or opposition between two interacting forces or
Discourse: alinguistunit (as a conversation or a story) larger
than a sentence; a mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or
experience that isrootedin language and its concrete
contexts (as history or institutions)
Discursive - of or relating to discourse (discursive practices)
Hegemony,the dominance of one group over another, often
supported by legitimating norms and ideas.
Hermeneutics-the study of the methodological principles of
interpretation (as of the Bible), a method or principle of
Ideology- a systematic body of concepts especially about
human life or culture; a manner or the content of thinking

language as distinguished from its grammar and

construction; of or relating to alexicon
Modality - of, relating to, or constituting a grammatical form
or category characteristically indicating predication of an
action or state in some manner other than as a simple
fact; the classification of logical propositions according to
their asserting or denying the possibility, impossibility,
contingency, or necessity of their content; one of the main
avenues of sensation (as vision).
Poststructuralism - a movement or theory (as
deconstruction) that views the descriptive premise of
structuralism as contradicted by reliance on borrowed
concepts or differential terms and categories and sees
inquiry as inevitably shaped by discursive and interpretive
Semiotic - a general philosophical theory of signs and
symbols that deals especially with their function in both
artificially constructed and natural languages and
comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics
Transivity -characterized by having or containing a direct
object <atransitiveverb> - In I like pie and She makes
hats, the verbs like and makes aretransitive.