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Critical Discourse Analysis

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Aloisia Aschauer

on 10 November 2014

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Transcript of Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis

text and talk play key role in maintaining and legitimizing inequality, injustice and oppression

how important social issues are constructed in discourse -> linguistic arguments

filter out language patterns
The Social Actor Theory
Critical discourse analysis with "exclusion"

= "the exclusion of social actors from the representation of actions and events in which they in fact took part."

= forming a sentence without mentioning the social actor directly

Theo Van Leeuwen
Critical Discourse Analysis
How can we represent social actors without mentioning them directly?
2. Role allocation

social actors:
"activated" --> Agent
"passivated" --> Patient

seek out aspects of commercial
as a consolidation and confirmation of their everyday lives."
sex role attitudes."
3. Generic and specific reference

reference: social actors = generalized -->
classes of people

reference: social actors = specific
identifiable individuals

4. Assimilation

social actors may be
"individualized" --> individuals
"assimilated" --> groups

: "they're all the same"-effect
a) aggregation

b) collectivization
a) aggregation:
"A number of
want to see our intake halved to 70,000."

powerful tool of social control
used in surveys, marketing research, etc.
regulates social practices
creates consensus opinions
b) collectivization:
words that express group identities
e.g. crew, staff, community
5. Association and dissociation

associations = groups that:
- engage in a common activity
- pursue a common interest

"They believed that the immigration program existed for the benefit of
politicians, bureaucrats, and the ethnic minorities
, not for Australians as a whole."

associations = realized by co-ordinated nominal groups
6. Indetermination

Social actors are:
identity does not matter

somebody, someone, some, some people, they

won't let you go to school until you're five years old."
7. Differentiation

Social actors:
explicitly differentiated ("us" vs. "them")

"How we can possibly be giving £1bn a month, when we're in this sort of debt, to Bongo Bongo Land is completely beyond me."
Godfrey Bloom, quoted in:

International Business Times

8. Nomination

Social actors --> unique identity

realized by proper nouns that are either:
formal (surname only)
semi-formal (given name and surname)
informal (given name only)

9. Categorization

--> identities and functions that people share with others

Two types:
a) Functionalization

social actor --> referred to as activity (i.e. occupation or role)
interviewer, celebrant, employer, etc.

b) Identification
Identification can be divided into three types:
a) classification:
major societal identity categories:
e.g.: age, gender, class, race, sexual orientation

b) relational identification:
personal relations:
e.g.: (my) friend, (her) aunt, (his) colleague

c) physical identification
physical characteristics
e.g.: blonde, redhead, little girl,
10. Personalization vs. Impersonalization

social actors --> impersonalized, no longer "human"


E.g.: "
North Korea
threatens to 'wipe out' South Korea's government."

E.g.: "
Neil Grayshon's new book
'Cycling Shouldn't Hurt' reveals gruesome images of injured London cyclists."
utterance autonomization:

E.g.: "
The survey showed
that the level of support for stopping immigration altogether was at a postwar high."

E.g.: "I need a
Question 1

In general, what is Critical Discourse Analysis about?

a) It explains why we should criticize every text we read.

b) It explains why texts are the way they are and why they change the way they do.

c) It explains why texts are written by certain authors and why they should be analyzed.

Correct answer: b)
Question 2

A typical active clause has both...

a) an Agent and a Social Actor

b) a Patient and a Passive Agent

c) an Agent and a Patient
Correct answer: c)
Question 3

Which word represents the Passive Agent in the following sentence?
Thirteen demonstrators were killed by the police.

a) "demonstrators"

b) "the police"

c) "thirteen"
Correct answer: b)
Question 4

The Social Actor Theory is about ...

a) how we can represent social actors without mentioning them directly.

b) why social actors are important in a sentence.

c) how we can represent social actors the best way.
Correct answer: a)
Question 5

In the case of generic reference, social actors are referred to as...

a) identifiable individuals

b) classes of people

c) associations
Correct answer: b)
Question 6

When might the "they're all the same" effect occur?

a) When social actors are "assimilated".

b) When social actors are "excluded".

c) When social actors are "individualized".
Correct answer: a)
Question 7

How is Indetermination realized?

a) by definite pronouns (e.g. the government, her boss, ...)

b) by indefinite pronouns (e.g. they, somebody, some people, ...)

c) by both definite and indefinite pronouns
Correct answer: b)
Question 8

How is the Turkish Sultan represented in the sentence "Turkish Sultan, give me back my diamond button."?

a) by being individualized.

b) by being the mean guy.

c) by being nominated.
Correct answer: c)
Question 9

What are social actors referred to in the case of functionalization?

a) To what they are able to do (e.g. driv
a car, swimm
, ...)

b) To an occupation or role (e.g. interviewer, guardian, employee)

c) To what society believes them to be (e.g. a mother of five, a blonde, a successful person)
Correct answer: b)
Question 10

Which category does the sentence "A 120mm mortar slammed into Sarajevo's marketplace." belong to?

a) functionalization

b) personalization

c) impersonalization
Correct answer: c)

A typical active clause
Three ways to obscure responsibility

The Social Actor Theory


Analysis of newspaper articles
A typical active clause

Agent (element responsible for action)
Patient (element to whom or which the Action is done)

"Rhodesian police / killed / thirteen unarmed Africans"




Three ways to obscure responsibility of an action
a) representing something that is going on as
an event that just happens
as opposed to
an action that is done by someone or something

"Thirteen demonstrators / died / when police opened fire "
Patient Event Circumstance of time
b) passive agent deletion
In a passive clause the agent is left out --> grammatically acceptable

"Thirteen demonstrators / were killed"
Patient Action

c) nominalization
neither Agent nor Patient are grammatically required
actions are made into nouns (-ing form)
actions are made into nouns → use of “process nouns”

s abound as people's republic of eastern Ukraine falls into anarchy”

The Independent

"A political
has led to death and injury."
Have a great weekend!
1. Exclusion

= leaving out social actors who are actually part of an
--> social actors remain unrepresented

- "details" the reader is assumed to already know
- "details" that are irrelevant
- "details" that are problematic

systematic exclusions
generic reference:
Non-European immigrants
make up 6.5% of the population."

--> plural, no article
--> establishes "us" and "them" groups
Full transcript