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critical discourse analysis

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Martin Hajek

on 17 May 2018

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Transcript of critical discourse analysis

CDA connects social analysis of discourse with a linguistic analysis of texts
Norman Fairclough
"critical" means that language in action is understood as a strategy how to achieve and conserve the unequal distribution of power in society, and a way how the subordinate groups resist to this inequality
important books:
Language and Power. 1989
Discourse and Social Change. 1992
Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. 2003
he has a linguistic education
he draws on systemic functional grammar developed by Michael Halliday.
-- language is a system that fulfills functions; it enables us:
- to construct our experience (the
- to enact social relations (the
- to combine these two kinds of meanings together in coherent text (the
- the main aim is to link changes in language with changes in society and culture = social theory of language
- necessary convergence of linguistic methods of language analysis with social and political theories
a discursive event
textual practice
discursive practice
social practice
social practice
discursive practice
textual (linguistic) analysis
analysis of discourse
sociological/political analysis
it studies
effects not causes
of inequalities: not only people of different social strata speak differently and in accordance to their positions but their positions are created by using language --> social structure is reproduced by means of language
production, distribution, consumption
how does a discourse construct the social?
1. it influences social identities, subjectivity, and selves
2. it has impact on relations among people
3. it contributes to the knowledge and beliefs
three-dimensional model of discourse
political, economic...
Word work
positive and negative connotations
: suspect x perpetrator, terrorist x freedom fighter; young women x immigrant; asocial x competitive
of immigrants released ahead of looming budget cuts;
in the government; the prime minister has secretly agreed to a
of cheap labour from India into the UK; epidemic, outbreak, ...
scientific, professional terminology or jargon
: an innovative set of management practices, deflationary mindset; pathological behaviour
: air support = bombing, collateral damages = killed civilians, career alternative enhancement program = collective layoff, suboptimal outcome = failure...
text structure
how clauses are linked together into sentences
esp. in public speeches
architecture of a text/speech:
what elements or episodes are combined in what ways and what order to constitute a specific discursive event (medical, job, research interview, news report, scientific article...)
modality - certainty, possibility, willingness, obligation, necessity, ability
active and passive form, e.g. people were not given information vs. we did not inform people)
direct and indirect speech
nominalization, e.g. legalization vs. legalize
reading, listening
discourses involve different discourse practices
Criticism of decontextualized analysis of text and speech:

- example of illocutionary force (promise, obligation, command, request, etc.):
"Can you carry the suitcase?" could be a question, a request or order, a suggestion, a complaint... - the meaning is situationally co-determined by social identities of actors (gender, race, ethnicity, profession...) and by the institutional context (hierarchy, purpose, formality...).

- example of a contextual coherence:
"She's giving up her job next Wednesday. She's pregnant" - is coherent only in certain ideological discourse
two modes of intertextuality
manifest intertextuality
interdiscursivity (constitutive intertextuality): the primacy of order of discourse; we understand a text only when given a reference to certain discourse
Social practice is understood as an issue of unequal distribution of power in society and the related issues of ideology and hegemony as a tool for maintaining and changing power asymmetry.
... is ruling elites' (leaders') organized consensus of opinion among different social groups or categories
incorporated as a common-sense (Antonio Gramsci)
ideologies are embedded in discursive practices and materialize so the institutions
1. Fairclough's three-dimensional model is rather a proposal for multidisciplinary enterprise than an integrative model.

2. There is a risk of confusion in understanding of this multi-level analysis as an omnipotence of discourse (taking epistemology for ontology).
Critical Discourse Analysis
developed a textually oriented discourse analysis
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
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?
- talking to children is a way how to educate them into the linguistic culture/habitus of their parents' class
Insufficiency of sociolinguistic analysis
alliterations (the
tar that guides us
till), repeating words, using near-synonyms, conjunctive words (therefore...)
we love Michigan
we love Michigan
we love it
and we're going to bring those cars-
we're going to make so many more cars than we're making right now
not going to happen the other way
not going to happen the other way
too many bad things are happening
we're going to start winning again folks
we're going to start winning again
Mr. Trump's 12/21/2015 speech in Grand Rapids MI.
Compare Declaration preceding the Czechoslovak Constitution from 1960 and the Preamble of Czech Constitution from 1993. Use critical discourse analysis approach i.e. compare them on all three levels (textual, discursive and social/political practice).
use of cohesion to evoke collective emotions and to create a sense of unity between the elite and masses
The representation of social actors in discourse
What are the ways which social actors can be represented in discourse?
role allocation
nomination & categorization
abstraction & objectivation
Homework 6
0. Read the text
Theo van Leeuwen: The representation of social actors (in Moodle).

1. Read through the following two websites:



Carry out an analysis using van Leeuwen's representation of social actors framework, which is explained in his text. Try to identify examples for as many categories of analysis as you can. You should present the analysis of the texts and then write a short interpretation of findings.
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