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Discourse Analysis

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Martin Hajek

on 16 May 2018

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Transcript of Discourse Analysis

varieties of discourse analysis
Foucauldian discourse analysis
discourse "in the hands" of actors;
discourse as a means to achieve something else
Foucauldian discourse analysis
Discourse is what allows knowledge to act as a power, and power to be perceived as a knowledge.
What is a discourse composed from?
a system of dispersion for statements
what isn't FDA
language in action
actors "in the hands" of discourse;
discourse as a macro-object
"As for those that carried out these attacks, there are no adequate words of condemnation. Their barbarism will stand as their shame for all eternity. As I said earlier, this mass terrorism is the new evil in our world."

T. Blair, press conference, Downing Street, 11 September 2001
critical discourse analysis
linguistic discourse analysis
text linguistics
conversation analysis
(T = teacher, P = any pupil who speaks)
T: Now then . . .I've got some things here, too. Hands up. What's that, what is it?
P: Saw
T: It's a saw, yes this is a saw. What do we do with a saw?
P: Cut wood.
T: Yes. You're shouting out though. What do we do with a saw? Marvelette.
P: Cut wood.
T: We cut wood. And, erm, what do we do with a hacksaw, this hacksaw?
P: Cut trees.
T: Do we cut trees with this?
P: No. No.
T: Hands up. What do we do with this?
- discourse analysis is not (only) textual analysis; text is a point in a network of texts, objects, persons, ideas, places etc. and studying discourse means studying these networks
- discourse does not reside in the deep structure but on the surface of things; discourse is an effect of discursive formations
- discourse analysis is not a form of commentary or hermeneutics; it does not seek the hidden truth of statements
statement (énoncé)
discursive formation
the atom of discourse, its smallest unit
the demarcated body of formulated statements
discourse is an aggregate of statements which share a common order of dispersion
- an event = what was said/written at some place and at certain time

- intention of speaker does not import in the analysis, the materiality of statement counts (e.g. ceremoinal speech, "insane" account)

- statement is a verbal event which became a part of archive

- "understandability" of statement is only secondary (medical prescription, latin mass, lyrics of songs etc.)
- not thematic relationship (justice, global warming...), because it is a discourse that produce the object/theme

- a way of association of statements; not homogeneity but heterogeneity is more important (eg. testimony of Inuit leader + measurement of glacier thickness + scientific theory of ocean currents + ...)

- not conceptual coherence (e.g. anti-terrorism discourse: making war to achieve the peace)

- order, correlations, positions, way of functioning, transformation of concepts, topics, objects, modalities of expression

- which concepts are permitted to enter into discourse, from which positions; which topics function as "gravitational cores"; which modalities of expression are legitimate; what objects appear in discourse and are re-specified
- a result, not a cause, of discursive formation (like a battle is not a cause of shooting the enemies but its result)

- not a language, as a generative principle enabling to form sentences

- not a corpus or archive, as instants "snapshots" of discourse

- an archive relates to the discourse like a discourse relates to the story in a narrative

- a discourse materially exists only in archive
an example of FDA
Hájek, M. & Kabele, J. (2010) Dual discursive pattern in Czech activists' internet media communication. European Journal of Communication 25(1): 43-58.
Question: is there anything like justice discourse?
Method 1: observing collocations of the word justice.
Result: a map of justice-related words used on Internet. Cannot answer whether the discourse of justice exist or not.
Method 2: observing the verbal communication of groups of people with justice claims
Google search, pair distances, Czech
Google Scholar, pair distances, English
Google search, pair distances, English
EU documents, pair distances, English
justice, truth, law, honor, right, wrong, good, god, evil, injustice, solidarity, freedom, responsibility, cooperation, fight, peace
Data: google search pairs of justice-related words
Data: internet communication of 12 Czech activist organizations and interest groups representing four domains of claim-making:
Counting and displaying co-occurrences of 33 most frequent lexical (semantic) words in texts in each domain
Lemmatization: collapsing different words with similar meanings in Czech, such as násilí (violence) – znásilnění (violation, rape), or matka (mother) – mateřství (motherhood, maternity).
Counting co-occurrences of selected words in sentences, defined as a set of words situated between two end punctuation marks (. ! ?) .
Frequency of the co-occurrence of a given pair of words in the same sentence was considered to be a measure of their distance in the text.
Transformation the large data matrix into a synoptic two-dimensional space has been done by multidimensional scaling (MDS).
trade unions discursive space
feminist discursive space
human right discursive space
environmental discursive space
1. No "justice discourse" but "activist discourse."
2. The internal split of discursive space in two areas:
a conditions area
as a discursive space for verbalizing the existential conditions of subjects of contention, and
a contention area
referring to opposition strategies and negotiation with movement opponents.
1. validity of findings: it is impossible to check whether the clusters of words also occur in the texts and in what contexts - we would need to look simultaneously at co-occurrences of multiple pairs of words

2. while the results indicate a common discursive pattern on the level of a sentence, it seems that the duality of communication is even more operative on a supra-sentence discursive level, i.e. within paragraphs, articles, brochures
Key findings
Why the dual discursive pattern exists? What are its causes?

Does it reflect inner-directed and outer-directed communication modes?
Probably not.

Does it have a power/knowledge function?
Probably so. In constructing ‘issues’, movement organizations use various framing strategies, which make reference to the life conditions of subjects of protection but largely avoid using the words related to negotiating and organization of struggle.
Conversation analysis
J.R.Firth: "It is in [a conversation] that we shall find the key to a better understanding of what language really is and how it works."
Inspiration: J. R. Firth: "You shall know a word by the company it keeps."
Focus on conversation as a prototypic kind of communication and language use.
Conversation as social interaction:
- spontaneous, withou explicit rules, durable, massive use, handle complex meanings
- even antagonistic conversations are ordered (quarrels)
Gricean conversational pragmatics
conversation is characteristically rational, co-operative event; it can be compared to interactions of people repairing together a broken car
Gricean maxims
Listeners and speakers must speak cooperatively and mutually accept one another to be understood in a particular way.
Cooperative Principle:
Make your contribution such as it is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged"
- conversation is a rational exchange of statements (verbal expressions)
1. Quantity
Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange).
Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

2. Quality
Do not say what you believe to be false.
Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

3. Relation
Be relevant.
4. Manner
Avoid obscurity of expression.
Avoid ambiguity.
Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).
Be orderly.
If one or more maxim are violated hearer, in an attempt to preserve the assumption that the speaker is still following the CP, will try to deduce some unstated proposition that the speaker may have wished to convey by flouting a maxim.
A: I am out of petrol.
B: There is a garage round the corner.
A: How is your husband getting on in his job at the bank?
B: Oh quite well, I think: he likes his colleagues, and he hasn't been to prison yet.
implication: garage is open and has petrol to sell
implication: working in a bank produce temptation to steel clients money but the husband has resisted it.
Example of use: a qualitative research interview

- researcher should ask question conforming all maxims in order to be uniformly understood
- respondent can violate maxims of quantity and manner, but quality and relevance is required
- silence is a violation of maxim of quantity to show that the topic is unwelcomed but without explicitly saying this (face-work)
learning as disciplination: multiple repeating loops; speaking when being called on only
from Late Latin discursus (“the act of running about”), from Latin discurrō (“run about”), from dis- (“apart”) + currō (“run”)
another example: a conversation between a psychiatrist and her patient
the speech of the patient is taken as a symptom of his illness (regardless of the content)
the speech of the psychiatrist is considered as a knowledge-producing act (regardless of the content)
discursive formation
multimodal statement
Technical procedure:
How to carry out the Foucauldian analysis of discourse?
trade unionism
human rights
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