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Representations 5: DISCOURSE, LANGUAGE AND POWER

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jenny kidd

on 26 April 2016

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Transcript of Representations 5: DISCOURSE, LANGUAGE AND POWER

Week 5: Discourse, Language and Power
Part 2: Discourse and Power
What do we mean when we talk about 'discourse'?
‘underlying the word ‘discourse’ Is the general idea that language is structured according to different patterns that people’s utterances follow when they take part in different domains of social life’ (Philips and Jorgensen, 2002:1)
The baby cried
The mommy picked it up
Cohesion
Narrative
Causality
Motivation
discourse is ‘ a group of statements which provide a language for talking about – a way of representing knowledge about – a particular topic at a particular historical moment.' (Hall, 2003: 72)
‘“Britain will be scarcely recognisable in 50 years if the immigration deluge continues”.
“Wives and mothers in the neighborhood said they were concerned about the presence of local youth”
Discourse is ‘a particular way of talking about and understanding the world (or an aspect of the world)’
(Philips and Jorgensen, 2002: 1)
SOCIAL
CONTEXT SPECIFIC
LINKED TO IDENTITY
FULL OF ASSUMPTIONS
ACTIVE
INFUSED WITH POWER
POLITICAL
Discourse is constructed
1. Uses pre-existing linguistic sources
2. Implies selection
3. Emphases its potential to construct 'reality'
‘All language, even language which passes as simple description, is constructive and consequential for the discourse analyst.’ (Potter and Wetherell: 200).
Discourse is contingent
"I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative" [Nick Clegg, 2010]
“… if people see what the system will really be like they will find that it isn’t as bad as they feared”. [Nick Clegg, 2011]
Discourse analysis

Jenny Kidd said…
Dr. Jenny Kidd said…
Dr. Kidd said…
A Cardiff woman said…
A mother said…
A 25 year old (!) said...
‘Discourse analysis explores what values and identities are contained, prevented or encouraged by the day-in, day-out practices and (often unspoken) rules of a particular discursive formation’ [Potter & Wetherell, 2002: 187]
‘textual meaning is constructed through an interaction between producer, text and consumer [rather] than simply being ‘read off’ the page by all readers in exactly the same way.’ (Richardson, 2007: 15)
Language in the news
‘… the ‘content’ of newspapers is not facts about the world, but in a very general sense ‘ideas’… language is not neutral, but a highly constructive mediator... [News] is not a value-free reflection of ‘facts’…. There are always different ways of saying the same thing, and they are not random, accidental alternatives. Differences in expression carry ideological distinctions (and thus differences in representation).’ (Fowler:11)
Headlines
Address
Personalisation
Lexical choices
Stereotypes
Rhetorical devices
Context
'They/Them'
war machine
censorship
propaganda
'We/Us'
army
reporting restrictions
press briefings
I felt ten feet tall,
I’ve told you a million times not to call me a liar
The demonstration was a mob rampage
The housing market bubble has burst
The situation in Iran has overheated
‘I’m not anti them at all you know’
‘I’m not anti them at all you know, I, if they’re willing to get on and be like us; but if they’re just going to come here, just be able to use our social welfares and stuff like that, then why don’t they stay at home?’
If [they’re willing to get on and be like us]
Then [I’m not anti them]
But
If [they’re just going … to use our social welfares]
Then [why don’t they stay home]
[FROM THE SUN]
Does BBC stand for Blame-dodging Backstabbing Cover-up?
Savile report 'whitewash' fury as Beeb chaos exposed

A FRENZY of back-stabbing as Beeb chiefs battled to dodge fallout from the Jimmy Savile scandal was exposed by a report yesterday — amid fury at chunks being BLACKED OUT.

The acres of censoring — which came as the BBC insisted it was being “transparent” — immediately sparked accusations of yet another whitewash. That was despite the stuff that escaped the marker pen still being enough to leave senior executives squirming.

Among those to slam the Beeb, which instead ran gushing TRIBUTES to the late Jim’ll Fix It star, was the flagship news show’s presenter Jeremy Paxman.
[FROM THE GUARDIAN]
Chaotic, toxic, frantic: how Savile crisis engulfed BBC
• Files reveal top staff at odds over how to handle revelations
• Decision to black out 3% of transcripts criticised
• Paxman's withering attack on 'pathetic' Newsnight

Lord Patten, the BBC chairman, accused senior managers at the broadcaster of "frantic faffing about" as they failed to get to grips with the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse crisis, in transcripts published in full for the first time. He said they were overwhelmed by a labyrinthine bureaucracy unmatched by communist China.

About 3% of the transcripts were blacked out – including several of Paxman's remarks. The BBC said they were redacted for legal reasons amid fears some of his comments were defamatory – although that decision prompted accusations of a cover-up.
‘The history which bears and determines us has the form of a war rather than that of a language: relations of power not relations of meaning.” (Foucault, 1980:114-115).
‘Discourse, Foucault argues, constructs the topic. It defines and produces the objects of our knowledge. It governs the way that a topic can be meaningfully talked about and reasoned about. It also influences how ideas are put into practice and used to regulate the conduct of others. Just as a discourse ‘rules in’ certain ways of talking about a topic, defining an acceptable and intelligible way to talk, write, or conduct oneself, so also, by definition, it ‘rules out’, limits and restricts other ways of talking, of conducting ourselves in relation to the topic or constructing knowledge about it.’ (Hall, 44) –
Michel Foucault, 1926-1984
the circulation of 'trans' discourse
‘Knowledge linked to power, not only assumes the authority of ‘the truth’ but has the power to make itself true. All knowledge, once applied in the real world, has real effects, and in that sense at least, ‘becomes true’ (Hall: 49).
’Thus it may or may not be true that single parenting inevitably leads to delinquency and crime. But if everyone believes it to be so, and punishes single parents accordingly, this will have real consequences for both parents and children and will become ‘true’ in terms of its real effects, even if in some absolute sense it has never been conclusively proven.’ (Hall; 49)
Anthony Gormley
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100198116/here-is-julie-burchills-censored-observer-article/
I nevertheless felt indignant that a woman of such style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of dicks in chick’s clothing.

a gaggle of transsexuals telling Suzanne Moore how to write looks a lot like how I’d imagine the Black & White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run would look.

I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word, but … they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales...).

To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah
'I do'
'I claim asylum'
Pick one newspaper article and undertake a critical discourse analysis of it. Illustrate your answer with reference to the literature on discourse analysis.
PERSONALISATION
LEXICAL CHOICES
STEREOTYPES
'a socially-constructed mental pigeon hole into which events and individuals can be sorted, thereby making such events and individuals comprehensible' (Jonathon Bignell)
Look at the reports – what might we begin to note about the discourse here; the headlines, the lexical choices, the modes of address, the agendas they reveal?

What is the difference between being silent and being silenced?

Who does the silencing (if anyone)? Are silences signs of disempowerment?

What happens when those who have been silent discover their voice?

How is it that certain silences ‘speak’ so emphatically?

on silence...
(and transphobic discourse)
Full transcript