The Evolution And Development Of Discourse Analysis

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Since 1970s Discourse Analysis (DA) has developed into substantial sub-areas, notably Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) which sees discourse as a form of social practice (Fairclough 1995, 1989) and argues that all linguistic usage encodes ideological positions, and studies how language mediates and represents the world from different points of view. It is the connection between ideas, language, power and the ordering of relationship within society that is important for those involved in CDA. While DA focuses on the relationship between language forms and a

limited sense of context and tends to be oriented to a narrow understanding of the larger social, cultural and ideological forces that influence our lives, CDA goes much further toward addressing the ideological dimensions of discourse. It is a version of discourse that does not posit language use free of ideological conditions.

According to van Dijk (2007), CDA does not have a unitary theoretical framework. Van Dijk (2007) identifies four mainstream approaches to CDA. The first one is Critical Linguistics which was developed by Fowler, Kress, Hodge & Trew (1979); Fowler (1991, 1996); Kress (1985) and Kress & Hodge (1979). The second approach which was introduced by Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1995) is the Sociocultural approach. Wodak (1996, 2001) and Wodak et al. (1999) proposed the Discourse-Historical approach. And finally, van Dijk’s (1998, 2002) framework was based on a sociocognitive approach. Van Dijk (2007) claims that these approaches are closely related by more general conceptual frameworks like van Dijk (2001).

The work of Fowler et al. (1979) has been cited as the starting point of Critical Linguistics (CL). CL is the earliest and one of the most influential linguistically-oriented critical approaches to discourse analysis. According to Fowler (1991), “critical linguistics simply means an enquiry into the relations between signs, meanings and the social and historical conditions which govern the semiotic structure of discourse, using a particular kind of linguistic analysis” (p. 90). It utilizes Halliday’s Systemic-Functional Grammar as an analytic methodology, although very early works were based on transformational grammar. Fowler (1991) focuses on the media’s representation of events, the linguistic analysis of that representation and the ideology encoded by it. He is primarily concerned with 'mystification' analysis of hard news texts. Mystification, it is argued, occurs with the use of certain grammatical structures which are thought to obscure certain aspects of reality, thus encoding ideology. Hodge and Kress (1993) provided some transformations such as transitivity, nominalization, negative incorporation and agentless passive with the last one having received most attention. They argued that drawing on these transformations; one can reveal intentions subtly disguised in complex structures, concealments and deceptions incorporated in transformationally derived sentences.

Having inherited the analytic methodologies of CL, Fairclough (1989) wrote about the social theories supporting CDA and developed his sociocultural analysis in his seminal work Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language in 1995. Fairclough argues that language is linked to social realities and brings about social change. He states that government involves the manipulation and use of language in significant ways, and is particularly concerned with the linkage between discourse, ideology and power relations within society.

Fairclough’s linguistic orientation is that of systemic-function grammar of Halliday. But he does not limit DA to the study of texts and specific discursive practices. He emphasizes a text as the product of a process in which discourse is closely related to social structures in its production and interpretation. He critically examines specific situations where relations of power, dominance and inequality are instantiated in discourse. Fairclough’s model of DA operates first with a dialectal relationship between the micro-structures of discourse (linguistic features) and the macro-structure of society (societal structures and ideology). He stresses that while macro-structures of society may determine the micro-structures of discourse, these in turn reproduce the larger social and ideological structures. Scrutinizing the language of mass media as a site of power, Fairclough shows the fallacy of such assumptions that media institutions are neutral.

Fairclough (2000) has been concerned with the “Language of New Labour” and the “Language of the New Capitalism”. His grammatical tools also relate to Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics, as well as to Conversational Analysis.

Wodak’s (1996, 2001) discourse-historical approach advocated by the Vienna School in critical discourse analysis has focused on the impact of historical socio-political contextual factors since the 1980s. Wodak (2000) states that in investigating historical, organizational and political topics and texts, the discourse-historical approach attempts to integrate much available knowledge about the historical sources and the background of the social and political fields in which discursive 'events' are embedded. Further, it analyzes the historical dimension of discursive actions by exploring the ways in which particular genres of discourse are subject to diachronic change (Wodak 1996).

Having recognized the importance of context to the meaning of the text, CD analysts began to pay attention to the contribution of non-verbal aspects of texts, which are semiotic devices. Van Leeuwen (1996) was the first who proposed a useful framework for considering the possible role of visual devices in the media. In fact, he doesn’t start with linguistic operations such as nominalizations and passive agent deletion or linguistic category such as transitivity, as many other critical analysts do. Instead, he says:”I seek to draw up a semiosemantic inventory of the ways in which social actors can be represented and to establish the sociological and critical relevance of my categories before I turn in the question of how they are realized linguistically”. (1996: 32)

Van Dijk (1985) holds that texts are not used just to inform us of some reality. They, additionally, based on the ideological standpoints of the person, organization, etc. involved in their production, construct the reality. One of the main tenets of CDA, then, is to reveal the sources of dominance and inequality observed in the society by analyzing texts (written or spoken). It is to find the discursive strategies utilized to construct or maintain such inequality or bias in different contexts.

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The socio-cognitive model by van Dijk is based on the assumptions that cognition mediates between “society” and “discourse”. Both long-term and short-term memories as well as certain mental models shape our perception and comprehension of discursive practices and also imply stereotypes and prejudices, if such mental models become rigid and over-generalized. The methodology used is eclectic, based primarily on argumentation theory and semantic theories.

The basic conceptual and theoretical concepts worked out and used by van Dijk (2000) in his CDA studies are as follows: Macro v. Micro- power as control; access and discourse control; context control; the control of text and talk and mind control. The micro level comprises language, discourse, verbal interaction and soon, while macro level has to do with power relation, such as inequality and dominance. And CDA plans to wed these two levels, since in actual interaction one cannot separate them from each other; social power, in this approach, is viewed as a means of controlling the mind and actions of other group(s). The social power by itself may not be negative, but what in fact is of significance to CDA is the inappropriate use of power, which would bring about inequality in the society. Van Dijk (2002) takes ideology as the attitude a group of people hold towards certain issues; hence the analysis of ideology is one of the main concerns of discourse analysis. In order to uncover ideology generated in discourse, van Dijk resorts to social analysis, cognitive analysis and discourse analysis of the text.

Van Dijk’s (2004) seminal work, Politics, Ideology and Discourse, proposes a worthwhile framework for political discourse analysis. This work which is a section of the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, describes the political discourse as the most ideological. Van Dijk (2004) argues that the social organization of the field of politics, and hence of politicians and political groups, is largely based on ideological differences, alliances and similarities. The overall organization of social beliefs as a struggle between the Left and the Right is the result of the underlying polarization of political ideologies that has permeated society as a whole … Indeed, political ideologies not only are involved in the production or understanding of political discourses and other political practices, but are also (re)produced by them. In a sense, discourses make ideologies ‘observable’ in the sense that it is only in discourse that they may be explicitly ‘expressed’ and ‘formulated’. Other political practices only implicitly show or experience ideologies, for instance in practices of discrimination on the basis of sexist, racist or political ideologies. (p. 11)

Van Dijk (2004) defines political discourse not only in terms of discourse structures but also in terms of political contexts. He contends that it is not sufficient to observe, for instance, that political discourse often features the well-known ‘political’ pronoun we. It is crucial to relate such use to such categories as who is speaking, when, where and with/to whom, that is, to specific aspects of the political situation. (p. 13)

More recently, distinguished figures in CDA have made some innovations in the frameworks utilized in this field. Van Leeuwen (2005) outlined three models of interdisciplinarity, i.e., ‘centralist’, ‘pluralist’ and ‘integrationist’. The idea of ‘discipline’ is in effect narrowed down to ‘skill’ in the integrationist model (p. 8).

According to van Leeuwen, the main feature that distinguishes the integrationist model from the others is its interdependent disciplines. Moreover, disciplines in the pluralist and integrationist models are equally valued - that is, one discipline is not seen as subsidiary to another - but it is not the case for the centralist model. In the pluralist and integrationist models issues and problems are central, while methods are oriented in the centralist model. Because of the newness of integrationist model, van Leeuwen particularly leaves much space for the discussion of why and how discourse analysis can be integrated with other disciplines. Some of the pitfalls of the integrationist model are also acknowledged. However, because such forms do not exist in practice, the proposed interdisciplinary models can be only understood as ‘pure’ or ‘ideal’ forms.

Chilton (2005a) introduced the reader to a cognitive approach to the analysis of discourse in social and political contexts. This innovative idea was fairly heuristic and thought-provoking, and could easily motivate further debate. Specifically, Chilton highlights three main problems of current research in CDA in a broad sense and then the incorporation of a cognitive perspective is proposed. He believes that a possible cognitive approach combined with cognitive evolutionary psychology and cognitive linguistics, specifically blending theory, to the analysis of discourse in social and political contexts is fairly needed for CDA if it is going to be genuinely interdisciplinary. To illustrate this, he applies the combined cognitive framework to a racist discourse, exploring the work largely ignored by CDA account, and concludes that “the framework can go beyond description (of CDA) and put forward suggestive explanatory stories” (p. 44). Based on cognitive evolutionary psychology, he also explicates initially a core empirical and theoretical question that CDA has never addressed before about to what extent language can trick, deceive or manipulate the human mind. He claims that because of its little attention paid to the human mind, “CDA in its later manifestation has made no contribution to scientific understanding of the language capacity” (p. 22) and could not achieve the goal of answering questions regarding the nature of the human mind, of human language, of human language use and of human society. His argument guides us to the issue of the status and direction of CDA.

In 2005, Norman Fairclough made an attempt to highlight and enrich a transdisciplinary approach to CDA that was first introduced into CDA by Chouliaraki & Fairclough (1999). Central to Fairclough’s approach is a feature of transdisciplinarity and dialectics of discourse in relation with other non-discoursal elements of social life. Fairclough contends that transdisciplinary research can be further developed and enhanced through dialogue of all the disciplines and theories involved, which has been exemplified by the treatment of genre and genre analysis in the version of CDA. Moreover, he claims that CDA can benefit from research in other disciplines and theories, and vise versa.

Wodak & Weiss (2005) drew upon their research on European Union discourses with a wide range of genres and critically discussed recent theory formation in some approaches of CDA and elaborated some thoughts on the mediation between the social activities and discourse through a particular focus on the discursive construction of European identities. Although the plurality of theories and methodologies can be highlighted as a specific strength of CDA, they maintain, it is also crucial to develop an integrated theoretical framework for CDA capable of reconciling sociological and linguistic perspectives without reducing them to one another because a synthesis of theories illustrated by Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999) is by no means “a monistic theory model’ or ‘more true than the individual theories” (p.125). Three basic steps for developing an integrated theoretical framework are proposed - clarifying the theoretical assumptions before the actual analysis, developing the conceptual tools capable of connecting both directions of sociology and linguistics, and finally defining categories. They argue that European identities are constructed differently in particular contexts and discursively re-negotiated and co-constructed, and propose for further study three perspectives – historical, communicative, and participation and representation.

Van Dijk (2005) drew a new theory of the way knowledge is managed in discourse processing as well as a new theory of context. Knowledge is defined pragmatically and socio-cognitively as ‘shared beliefs satisfying the specific (epistemic) criteria of an (epistemic) community’ (p.73). And the way knowledge in discourse production and comprehension is seen as a function of context. Van Dijk argues that social context and text are linked by a ‘context model’ (van Dijk 2001; Wodak 2000), “the mental representation of the participants about the relevant properties of the social situation in which participants interact, and produce and comprehend text or talk” (p.75).

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