Critical Discourse Analysis

Topics: Sociology, Linguistics, Discourse analysis Pages: 5 (1520 words) Published: March 10, 2011
Critical Discourse Analysis

Social communication is increasingly becoming a subject of scientists’ discussions from different disciplines, as well as ordinary language users. In contemporary social sciences, especially in linguistics, we see a clear shift to discourse. Discourse allows us to talk about use of the language, as well as the language as a socio-cultural activity. In this sense, discourse, on one hand, reflects the social reality, on the other hand, it shapes it, therefore participate in the creation and pass on different values, ideologies and symbolic power. This essay aims to show the definition of Critical Discourse Analysis and also show how useful it is for exploring issues of power and inequality in relation to gender.

Since its introduction to modern science the term 'discourse' has taken various, sometimes very broad, meanings. Originally the word ‘discourse’ comes from Latin ‘discursus’ which means conversation, speech. Discourse refers to a wide area of human life. Being aware of differences between kinds of discourses indicates the unity of communicative intentions as a vital element of each of them. Seven criteria which have to be fulfilled to qualify either a written or a spoken text as a discourse have been suggested by Beaugrande (1981). These include: Cohesion - grammatical relationship between parts of a sentence essential for its interpretation; Coherence - the order of statements relates one another by sense; Intentionality - the message has to be conveyed deliberately and consciously; Acceptability - indicates that the communicative product needs to be satisfactory in that the audience approves it; Informativeness - some new information has to be included in the discourse; Situationality - circumstances in which the remark is made are important; Intertextuality - reference to the world outside the text or the interpreters' schemata. Nowadays, however, not all of the above mentioned criteria are perceived as equally important in discourse studies, therefore some of them are valid only in certain methods of the research. Discourse is always produced by somebody whose identity, as well as the identity of the interpreter, is significant for the proper understanding of the message. On the other hand langue is impersonal that is to say more universal, due to society. Furthermore, discourse always happens in either physical, or linguistic context and within a meaningful fixed time, whereas langue does not refer to anything. Consequently, only discourse may convey messages thanks to langue which is its framework.

Discursive perspective in studies of the mass media has become more modern and less accepted as a complementary or alternative method. Research to classical content analysis of press, is the amount of research. That up using perspective is still too small. Furthermore, the use of such understanding analysis trial media coverage is so varied, as different areas are interdisciplinary study of language and mass communication.

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is a rapidly developing area of language study. It regards discourse as a form as social practice, and takes consideration of the context of language use to be crucial to discourse. It takes particular interest in the relation between language and power. This method of analysing media texts has been developed from the work of the French intellectual Michel Foucault. His early writings looked at the ways in which language, both spoken and written, represent certain meanings that reflect and reproduce social and political power. Foucault claimed that power and knowledge are interdependent: power entails command over discourse and command over discourse entails power. Since Norman Fairclough's (one of the founders of Critical Discourse Analysis) ‘Language and Power’ in 1989, Critical Discourse Analysis has been deployed as a method of analysis throughout the humanities and social sciences. It is neither a homogeneous nor...

References: * Beaugrande, R. and Dressler, W. (1981). ‘Introduction to text linguistics.’ London: Longman.
* O’Sullivan, T. (2003) ‘Studying the Media: An Introduction’. 3rd Edition. USA: Bloomsbury
* Butler, J. (1990) ‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity’ New York: Routledge.
* Wodak, R. (1997) ‘Gender and Discourse.’ London: SAGE
* ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’ [online]. [Accessed 12th December Fairclough, N. (2003). ‘Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research.’ London: Routledge
* 2010]. Available at <>
* ‘The Use of The Discourse Analysis’ [online]. [Accessed 12th December 2010]. Available at <>
* ‘Krytyczna analiza dyskursu: refleksje teoretyczno-metodologiczne’ [online]. [Accessed 11th December 2010]. Available at <>
* ‘Critical discourse analysis, intertextuality and the present study’ [online]. [Accessed 12th December 2010]. Available at <>
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