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Critical Discourse Analysis

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Sandra Mathison

on 28 January 2016

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Transcript of Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis
You need to know what discourse analysis is before defining CRITICAL discourse analysis?
Discourse analysis = the study of language and the deeper meanings about how language is used.

The term ‘discourse’ has three definitions:
language beyond the level of the sentence
language behaviors linked to a social practice
language as a system of thought

Most discourse analysis is analysis of conversation... this means paying attention to things like syntax, grammar, intonation, vocabulary, turn-taking, overlapping, silence, and so on.

CDA goes beyond just analyzing discourse though.

Adding CRITICAL indicates analysis of the way discourse reproduces (or resists) social and political inequality, power abuse or domination.
In other words, analysis that shows how language constructs sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, social deviance, money, crime, mental illness, nature, national identity, motherhood, and on and on.
Discourse is not the majestically unfolding manifestation of a thinking, knowing, speaking subject, but, on the contrary, a totality, in which the dispersion of the subject and his discontinuity with himself may be determined.

This all requires a particular kind of specialized transcription... that looks something like this...
I think Monsieur Foucault means there are large systems of thought and social practice within historical contexts that make things "thinkable" and "sayable"... and who can think and say those things, and how and when
HOLY CRAP! This is complex!
I can't imagine what CDA actually looks like,
maybe this example will help.
Three ways of DECONSTRUCTING discourse
historical
: what is real today, wasn't always... so we can challenge 'reality' and the way we construct experience
cultural
: there are differences, what can we learn from the contrasts
discursive
: how does 'word-play' create conditions of hegemony
Let me try to summarize...

CDA is
a special case of discourse analysis
that focuses on discursive conditions, components & consequences of power abuse by dominant groups & institutions
by examining patterns of access to and control over context, genre, talk, etc
and is especially interested in how inequality is expressed, legitimated and/or reproduced in talk
CDA analysis deconstructs talk by focusing on contrasts
and does so in solidarity with dominated groups
and if you want to learn more about
CDA, take a look at the work of

Michel Foucault...
for the really big ideas

Norman Fairclough... for the more practical stuff
take for example the word/thing: "ADHD"

historically
, this is a relatively new word, it became a thing in the 1980s... before that it was sometimes called 'hyperkinetic impulse disorder' or being fidgety!

culturally
, not everyone believes ADHD is a thing... in fact, it seems to be a peculiarly common malady in the USA, it isn't even recognized as a thing in France... and cross-cultural diagnosticians can't agree on what it is or if it exists

discursively
, possibly 1) the conflation of 'good parenting' with parents getting on board with the ADHD thing, i.e. controlling behavior through medication, 2) the various features of ADHD: genetic ~ behavioral ~ time delimited ~ controllable ~ dysfunctional ~ genius ~ creative ~ a medical condition and so on, 3) the ADHD thing mediates relationships among school personnel, parents, and children, 4) ADHD is gendered, i.e., it's a guy thing
do you think they remember that CDA
is a specific version of
discourse analysis, and so it requires
a substantial knowledge of linguistics
and sociolinguistics
Full transcript