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Moazzam Ali Malik
Critical Discourse Analysis
Compiled Notes
University of Gujrat
English Department
MA Linguistics
Critical Discourse
1. Introduction
2. What is Critical Discourse Analysis?
3. Influences in Critical Discourse Analysis
4. Basic tenets and critiques of Critical Discourse Analysis
5. How to do CDA – a framework for analysis
6. How to do CDA - Language Aspects
7. How to do CDA - Pre-analysis Orientation
8. Conclusion
1. Introduction
Critical Discourse Analysis: An Analytic Framework for Educational Research Opening
In what way would you approach the analysis of piece of text? Which aspects would you
choose to focus on and which principles or theories would you choose to guide you?
Make some notes on these points and on the practical steps you would take. Return to
these notes after reading this unit to see where the similarities and difference lie
between your approach and those discussed.
The information on which people interpret the world around them comes from a wide
range of sources. It comes from personal interactions with others, from their knowledge
and experience, cultural conventions and precedents in their social world; it comes from
their exposure to institutional and non-institutional learning environments, as well as
from subsequent reflection, theorising and practice based on these environments; and it
comes from the public media - television, radio, newspapers and magazines, the
Internet and so on. At various times and in various contexts, each of these sources
carries with it differential values in terms of status and so the information received from
these sources can be interpreted as having different degrees of validity. The main mode
through which most of these sources provides information is language, though recent
advances in multimodal analysis [Kress and Van Leeuwen (2001), Jewitt, C. and Kress,
G. (2003), Norris, S. (2004), Taylor (2006)] have crucially indicated that other modes of
meaning making, including gesture, intonation, image and gaze among the multimodal
signs, also play a crucial role and should be taken account of.
Despite these recent advances this unit will argue that a key, and arguably the main,
way in which people make sense of the world is through language - it is a discursive
process. This view seeks to challenge the view that language and social reality are
unrelated. It challenges a view that language is a neutral reflection of society and social
reality. Rather it argues that language, instead of drawing meanings passively from preexisting knowledge of the world, plays an active role in classifying the phenomena and
experiences through which individuals construct, understand and represent reality. The
way in which people make sense of the world is therefore discursively mediated.
Such a view would suggest that the relationship between the linguistic forms used to
describe the world and the ‘reality’ or ideational content intended to be encapsulated
within these forms is not arbitrary or conventional. The relationship is part of a process
which is ideologically loaded and the meanings implied by this synthesis of forms and
content can be related to the social structures and processes of the origins of texts and
discourses. Language then needs to be viewed as more than a representative process
of communication but part of a wider ideological process of the representation and
construction of meanings. It is active rather than passive in the process of representing
the world. It is a process of performance rather than a process of quiescent and neutral
2. What is Critical Discourse Analysis?
What is Critical Discourse Analysis?
CDA needs to be understood as both a theory and a method (Chouliaraki and
Fairclough 1999: 16), in that it offers
‘not only a description and interpretation of discourses in social context but also offers
an explanation of why and how discourses work’ (Rogers 2004:2).
Before beginning to address the issue of this theoretical approach, it is important to be
clear about what we mean by the concepts of critical, discourse, and analysis, and
these are terms that have been interpreted in differing and contested ways.
In CDA, the notion of ‘critical’ is primarily applied to the engagement with power
relations associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. In this, it argues against
a realist, neutral and rationalist view of the world. Instead the role is to uncloak the
hidden power relations, largely constructed through language, and to demonstrate and
challenge social inequities reinforced and reproduced.
Task 1 Part 1
What does the term ‘discourse’ mean to you? Make a few notes of your first responses
on this question before reading on, then share your thoughts on this and the next task
activity at the end of the subsection.
Discourse is a contested and contestable term. Perhaps the most useful way of
handling this contestation comes from the work of James Gee (1990). Gee uses the
term discourse (with a small ‘d’ to talk about language in use, or the way language is
used in a social context to ‘enact’ activities and identities. This is the way that applied
linguists such as McCarthy (1994) have used the term to discuss language beyond the
sentence level - an analytical advance that allows use to consider some of the things
that are happening in the language that are only observable if we look beyond single
sentence examples e.g. the word ‘This’ can be used at the start of a discussion to
foreground the topic under discussion and identify it as important to the speaker,
whereas the word ‘That’ could be used to background or marginalise a topic and place
it is a subordinate position, from the speaker’s point of view.
But Gee notes that language does not occur in isolation, but in specific social contexts.
It occurs between people, in particular places, in particular sets of circumstances, at
particular times, accompanied by particular semiotic signs (such as gesture, dress and
symbols) and is influenced by a range of values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions and
ideologies. It is this non-language ‘stuff’ that Gee terms as Discourse (with a big ‘D’). So
discourse occurs within Discourses. For Gee,
"Discourses are characteristic (socially and culturally formed, but historically changing)
ways of talking and writing about, as well as acting with and toward, people and things.
These ways are circulated and sustained within various texts, artefacts, images, social
practices, and institutions, as well as in moment-to-moment social interactions. In turn,
they cause certain perspectives and states of affairs to come to seem or be taken as
'normal' or 'natural' and others to seem or be taken as 'deviant' or 'marginal' (e.g., what
counts as a 'normal' prisoner, hospital patient, or student, or a 'normal' prison, hospital,
or school, at a given time and place)" (Gee: 2000).
Gee’s work has been influenced by the thought of Michel Foucault (1972) who uses
discourse as an authoritative way of describing. Discourses are spread by specific
institutions and divide up the world in specific ways. For example, we can talk of
medical, legal, and media discourses. Discourse is used to describe the way that
language (and beyond!) operates to produce meanings, that is the range of forms of
representation, codes, conventions and habits of language that produce specific fields
of culturally and historically located meanings. In Foucault’s description, these
discourses are hierarchically arranged and so have differing degrees of power and
influence. The dominant discourses are understood by existing systems of law,
education and the media, and are in turn reinforced and reproduced, and less powerful
discourses marginalised, misunderstood and ignored. It is this conception of Discourse
that Critical Discourse Analyst operate with. A concise, readable and informative
discussion of the theoretical assumptions underlying notions of discourse can be found
in Mills (1997).
In terms of analysis, CDA takes the view that texts need to be consider in terms of what
they include but also what they omit – alternative ways of constructing and defining the
world. The critical discourse analyst’s job is not to simply read political and social
ideologies onto a text but to consider the myriad ways in which a text could have been
written and what these alternatives imply for ways of representing the world,
understanding the world and the social actions that are determined by these ways of
thinking and being. A fuller discussion of these aspects of CDA can be found in Rogers
2004: 3-8.
Task 1 Part 2
In what ways is there a relationship between language and power? What does it mean
to be critical? Make a few notes on your response to this question before reading on then share reflections on this and part 1 of the task above with colleagues.
3. Influences in Critical Discourse Analysis
Influences Within Critical Discourse Analysis
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) refers to an approach to the study of language use
and textual practices that focus closely on the inter-relationship between language and
power. It draws on a range of theoretical resources derived from numerous disciplinary
fields. It has developed historically from differing conceptions of Linguistics and from
differing influence from a range of post-structural and neo-Marxist influences.
Linguistic Influences
Critical Linguistics as a branch of linguistic analysis is concerned with analysing texts in
their socio-political contexts. The remit of this approach, and its successors such as
Critical Language Awareness and Critical Discourse Analysis, is wider than media
discourse alone, but has had such a central influence that it is appropriate to critically
consider such approaches and their implications at this stage.
Advocates of Critical Linguistics would argue that language is central to the way in
which individuals are constructed as social subjects and that linguistic choices reflect
ideological processes. As a result of this the systematic analysis of texts is viewed as a
key way in which to examine the operations by which people are kept under control by
dominant forces. The system of analysis operated by critical linguists is based on
systemic-functional linguistic theory (Halliday 1985), which has also been integrated
with the theory of discourse of social theorists such as Foucault and Bourdieu. It arose
partly in reaction to the tendency of discourse analysts (e.g. Sinclair and Coulthard
1975, Brown and Yule 1983) to view texts as products and on occasion simply to
allocate acts or moves to set categories. Such an approach, argues Fairclough
(1992:15), pays ‘insufficient attention to interpretation’ due to an ‘absence of a fully
developed social orientation to discourse’. The criticism centres on the discourse
analysts’ tendency to ignore the fact that different participants in a discourse will have
different interests and perspectives and therefore may interpret the discourse in
different ways. For example, Sinclair and Coulthard’s (1975) analysis of classroom
language was largely centred on the powerful figure in the context, the teacher. The
student voices tended to be marginalised.
Critical Linguistics is, and perhaps would wish to be, not without its critics. In its earliest
conceptions (Fowler et al. 1979), it tended to focus on the production of texts and ignore
the ways in which audiences interpret these texts, which has been a growing concern
within media studies and cultural studies. Critical Linguistics tended to view the media
as rather monolithic, in the over-structural way of Althusser’s (1971) ISAs, and ignore
the diversity within the media, its institutions, practices and discourse. Linguistically,
emphasis was on the ideational more than the interpersonal and this tended to
marginalise issues of social identity. The focus tended to be on the micro-level of the
lexicon-grammar and tended to downplay issues relating to genre, discourse and
intertextuality. It was basically text analysis. Debates emerged arounbd these limitations
and attempts began to be made to address them through more of an emphasis on an
intertextual approach to textual analysis, which, as we shall see, is central to CDA.
Influences from Critical Social Theory
Drawing on the work of Foucault, critical discourse analysis takes the position that
language/discourse are not neutral media for describing the world – they construct and
regulate social relations and knowledge. This entails that discourse have a disciplining
effect in that they limit the boundaries of field and enquiry and determine what is
acceptable in terms of beliefs and actions within those field and how these beliefs can
be expressed. Institutions are therefore defined and understood through discourses in
terms of their make-up at both an institutional and an individual level – what it means to
be a ‘university’ or an ‘academic’, for example are discursive constructions which carry
with them sets of values and ideologies. Foucault (1980) argued that this implies
‘technologies of power’ and ‘technologies of the self’ – policing mechanisms that
enforce limits on social practices and understandings of identities of members of the
institution, through the authority of the institution and thorough the individuals internal
understanding of their identity within the institution.
Another key analytical concept relating to the is Bourdieu’s notion of ‘habitus’ or ‘a set
of deeply interiorized master-patterns…(which) may govern and regulate mental
processes without being consciously apprehended or controlled’ (1971: 192-3). It is,
then, a cultural framework within which and by which habitual thought and social action
occur. The habitus allows individuals to recognize some possibilities but not others, to
generate practices and perceptions, but also to limit them. Bourdieu argues that the
power of the dominant groups in society ensures that it is their habitus that is dominant
over others, and gives the example of how education is a process whereby the power of
a dominant group will legitimate the outcomes that are considered valuable and also
construct features of the habitus of subordinate groups as examples of failure.
Bourdieu’s complementary notion of ‘doxa’ is also useful in describing the interaction
between habitus and a field to which it is attuned (in our context, education). This
interaction produces a set of accepted assumptions in that field, which come to be seen
as ‘natural’, ‘normal’ and remain uncontested. Doxa, therefore, acts to distinguish what
is ‘thinkable’ from what is ‘unthinkable’. This entails that particular social actions and
beliefs become unthinkable or inarticulable, particularly those that challenge established
and dominant norms.
CDA also draws on neo-Marxist theorisations of power and control. Language is socially
determined. It is a reflection of unequal distribution in society, and one of the means by
which those in power hold on to it. It is significantly influenced by Antonio Gramsci’s
notion of hegemony.
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian Marxist political theorist and activist whose seminal
work, published as Selections from a Prison Notebook, was produced during his
incarceration in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It is in this work that he outlines his
notion of hegemony, widely considered to be his most significant contribution to
political philosophy. Gramsci conceived the term hegemony in two ways: negatively, to
describe the mechanisms of power that operated the control of society in capitalist and
fascist societies such as Italy at the time and, more positively, as a more socially
equitable alternative to such political and economic domination.
The first conception of hegemony described the way in which the political system
maintained power through consensual and ideological means. This was viewed as an
alternative, though parallel and ultimately more effective, mode of control to the coercive
apparatus of the state, that comprised the army, the police and the judiciary. This
coercive apparatus maintained the power of the ruling classes through force, which
Gramsci labelled ‘domination’. The alternative was grounded in the institutions of
society such as the church, the education system and, of more immediate relevance to
this thesis, the media and political groupings. These institutions were the means by
which dominant groups obtained and organised the spontaneous adherence of the
population to their rule. The consensual nature of hegemony was by the promotion of
shared ideals, values, beliefs, meanings and knowledge. For Gramsci this was classbased in that such shared beliefs were those of the dominant classes, and he gave
examples of this as the Church in Italy and Fordism in the USA. Such institutions
promoted the intrinsic value of certain beliefs and modes of conduct over others. The
Church emphasised the notions of a divine masterplan, and that suffering on earth will
be compensated for in an afterlife, as well as a loyalty to itself and the state it
legitimated. Fordism encouraged a work ethic, and convinced workers of the validity of
a capitalist approach to economics and, hence, the adoption of bourgeois aspirations.
Gramsci claimed that the economies afforded by large scale production permitted
higher wages and lowered the costs of products, yet these conditions made it…
"relatively easy to rationalise production and labour by a skilful combination of force
(destruction of working-class trade unionism on a territorial basis) and persuasion (high
wages, various social benefits, extremely subtle ideological and political propaganda)
and thus succeed in making the whole life of the nation revolve around production.
Hegemony here is born in the factory and requires for its exercise only a minute quantity
of professional political and ideological intermediaries" (Gramsci 1971: 285).
Such an understanding of the way dominant classes had engineered consent was
evident for Gramsci in the success of liberal democracies, such as the USA, Britain and
France, in the face of the economic crises that arose in the decade after the First World
War, and the failure of the German revolution of 1919, as well as other political
uprisings, such as the British General Strike of 1926.
Gramsci’s second conception of hegemony afforded a more positive outlook. He
claimed that hegemony does not simply occur spontaneously - it has to be organised
and, as such, affords opportunities for it to be resisted. This led Gramsci to his second
and more positive view of producing an alternative hegemony, an educative and cultural
task, in which the population, led by the Party, develops a new, more egalitarian set of
values and beliefs, as well as the political will to bring about such changes in society.
Showing a debt to his Marxist origins, Gramsci claimed that such change would need an
economic dimension, though the crux of the task would be the political organisation of
institutions, including schools, through which the Party would offer an alternative
More recently, CDA has been influenced by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's
(1985) reworking of Gramscian notions of hegemony in terms of a discourse approach,
in which the hegemonic struggle is seen as a contention over particular visions of the
world which are claimed to have a universal status (e.g. the neo-liberal version of
globalisation, often termed ‘globalism’ in which this phenomenon is represented as
inevitable, beneficial, without anyone in charge of it, about liberalization of economies
and congruent with the spread of democracy and a a war on terror). Such a contentious
view of the world is clearly constructed and represented discursively.
Critical Discourse Analysis argues that language helps to construct a negative
hegemony by presenting the dominant groups thinking as common sense, inevitable,
the way things are, etc. Fairclough (1992) uses the term ‘naturalisation’ for this
Task 2
Think back to your reflections on relationships between language and power and, if
appropriate, annotate these at this point. Share thoughts with colleagues.
4. Basic tenets and critiques of Critical Discourse
Three Dimensional View of Discourse Analysis
Fairclough Critical Language Awareness, Longman (1992)
Basic Tenets of Critical Discourse Analysis
Fairclough (1992) offers five theoretical propositions that frame his approach to CDA.
1. Discourse
This is viewed as two way, dialectic relationship - language changes according to the
context - situations are altered according to language used –for example, advertising
and news can affect attitudes, behaviour, etc.
2. Discourse helps to constitute (and change) knowledge, social relations and social
The way language is used affects the way the world is represented - nationalism, us and
them. An appeal to ‘Back to Basics’ sounds like a good thing, but in many ways
masquerades many of the implications of such a move and the underlying philosophy.
Anti-Abortionist terming themselves ‘pro-life’ implies that their opponents are ‘anti-life’.
3. Discourse is shaped by relations of power and invested with ideologies:
An example of this is the way certain languages, accents or dialects are valued or
devalued - notion of standards as good is an interpretation that needs to be
problematised. Medical language - traditional medicine - technologised - is presented
compared with alternative therapies - holds ideological assumptions about what is best,
common sense etc. Even the term ‘alternative medicine’ is marginalising in that it implies
that ‘non-alternative medicine’ is the norm, rather than one of two options.
4. The
If the previous tenet is correct, then language is a powerful mechanism for social control
and, therefore, is contested and contestable.
5. CDA aims to show how society and discourse shape each other:
Language use is not a neutral phenomenon – it is concerned with developing
consciousness of the issue, a precondition for developing new practices and
conventions – and thus contributing to social emancipation and social justice.
Fairclough and Wodak (1997: 271-280) offered eight foundational principles for CDA.
These are:
CDA addresses social problems
Power relations are discursive
Discourse constitute society and culture, and is constituted by them
Discourse does ideological work – representing, constructing society reproducing
unequal relations of power.
Discourse is historical – connected to previous, contemporary and subsequent
Relations between text and society are mediated and a socio-cognitive approach
is needed to understand these links.
Discourse analysis is interpretive and explanatory and implies a systematic
methodology and an investigation of context
Discourse is a form of social action.
In summary, then, CDA can be seen as a
‘highly context-sensitive, democratic approach which takes an ethical stance on social
issues with the aim of transforming society - an approach or attitude rather than a step
by step method’ (Huckin 1997:1).
CDA is founded on the idea that there is unequal access to linguistic and social
resources, resources that are controlled institutionally. It is therefore primarily
concerned with institutional discourses – media, policy, gender, labelling etc. A key
concept is that of the ‘naturalization’ of particular representations as ‘common sense’
(Fairclough 1989). Something comes to be seen as ‘common sense’ when it, and its
implicit assumptions, are no longer seen as questionable, as a simple matter of fact.
When a discourse becomes so dominant that alternative interpretations are entirely
suppressed or ignored then it ceases to be arbitrary; or, as merely one position, it
comes to be viewed as natural, and has legitimacy, simply because that is ‘the way
things are’. Thus a naturalised discourse loses its ideological character and appears as
neutral – it represents its ‘story’ as the ‘truth’ and implies that the learning of this
discourse requires only the learning of a set of skills or techniques, as may be seen in
the contemporary approach to teacher education (training?) in the current neo-liberal
context. Learning to be a teacher becomes a matter of learning the techniques rather
than engaging with questions around the purposes of education and critically
considering the most appropriate ways to meet these purposes. An example of this
from secondary school education in the 1970s was the naturalisation of a discourse of
‘discipline’ in which corporal punishment was an unquestionably legitimate approach, an
issue and associated action that now appears to be highly questionable and
contestable. Such issues again have clear links with the notion of hegemony, or holding
power through consent and acquiescence.
CDA views text as artefacts that do not occur in isolation – socio-political, socio-historic
contexts contribute to production and interpretation of text and are crucial aspects of the
analysis. It operates on three levels of analysis – engaging with the text, the discursive
practices (processes of production, reception, interpretation) and the wider sociopolitical and socio-historic context.
Reading Activity Task
For an example of the above, now read Hyatt, D. (2005) "Time For A Change: A Critical
Discoursal Analysis Of Synchronic Context With Diachronic Relevance" inDiscourse
and Society Vol 16(4) pp 515-534.
CDA acknowledges the crucial value of an interdisciplinary study of texts. By accepting
a Hallidayan perspective, we reject the view of language as an entity to be studied in
experimental isolation. Other disciplines come to bear - social theory and sociology,
semiotics, philosophy, political theory, media studies, multi-modality studies, cognitive
processing studies amongst many others. This has led to van Dijk (2004) arguing that a
more appropriate name would be Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) as this focuses more
on the interdisciplinary nature and the implied social action rather than simply the act of
analysis. The emphasis on interdisciplinarity recognizes the diversity, depth, and history
of scholarship that advance critical understandings of discursive phenomena, and so
van Dijk argues that no particular theoretical, disciplinary, or methodological paradigms
should be privileged over others.
CDA has a concern with representations of societal issues, hidden agendas, texts that
impact on people’s lives – it claims therefore to take an ethical stance in addressing
power imbalances, inequities, social justice agenda to spur readers into resistant and
‘corrective’ social action
The post-structuralist approach to discourse therefore implies a social constructionist
view of discourse. Reality, not fixed but constructed through interactions, is mediated by
language and other semiotic systems and is therefore open to change (for the better?).
If language is constructed, it can therefore be deconstructed and reconstructed. It offers
a discourse of possibility - ‘Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from
engaging in the process of enquiry is one of violence’ (Freire 1972: 66).
Critiques of Critical Discourse Analysis
Maley (1994) has criticised the work of the Critical Discourse Analysts on the basis that
their work is centred on a struggle against hegemony, or the structures and practices by
which social groups accept their own repression consensually as opposed to through
coercion, through a process of ‘naturalisation’ by which individuals are conditioned into
accepting ideological positions, not necessarily in keeping with the best interests of the
dominated group, and these positions becoming viewed as ‘the way things are’ and so
unchallengeable. This notion was developed from Gramsci’s (1971) notion of
Maley argues that there is a logical problem inherent in challenging any argument
based on a notion of hegemony, as to do so opens oneself to charges of being a victim
of ‘false consciousness’. Also whilst Gramsci did not intend hegemony to imply the
existence of a single dominant ideology, this is how it has been interpreted by some
neo-Marxists (e.g. Althusser 1971), and so failing to account for the multiple identities
and relations within society, as well as failing to recognise the dynamic, adaptable
nature of the powerful (capitalism today does not comprise the industrial mill owners
depicted by Marx and Engels but is more easily recognisable as the globalised ‘turbocapitalism’).
Critical approaches can sometimes be interpreted as ‘anti-teacher’ in their portrayal as
agents of hegemony. This view, however, is premised on a conception of teachers as a
homogeneous group, a position widely refuted in the research literature. Attempts to
understand teachers’ actions and perspectives as they are created and modified
through multiple interactions in complex organisational contexts is not a ‘blanket
condemnation of teachers as a group’ (Gillborn 1998:42) but an attempt to address the
problem of where educational practices and policies reinforce hegemonic relations. An
apolitical stance can result in no action being taken which in turn might reproduce
assumptions which shape existing inequalities.
In the English Language Teaching (ELT) context, Widdowson (1995) has offered some
of the most damning critiques of such a position, including the claim that the arguments
of Critical Discourse Analysts are often reductive, as their arguments are themselves
partial. He claims that Critical Discourse Analysts rarely acknowledge that texts can be
interpreted in different ways by different audiences and regularly imply that a ‘single
interpretation is uniquely validated by the textual facts’ (1995: 169).
The committed critical discourse analyst may interpret a text in keeping with their own
ideological standpoint and as such could be charged with producing an intellectual and
interpretive hegemony as oppressive as the one critical discourse analysts seek to
challenge. Such a commitment to a particular preferred reading of a text denies the
essential understanding that texts do not contain meaning but that meanings are
pragmatically interpreted from texts. Fish (1981) has warned of the dangers of such
‘interpretive positivism’ whereby linguistic data is used as a way of confirming decisions
and interpretation already arrived at concerning the meaning of a text.
Fairclough (1996) counter-argues that such a position is somewhat naïve in assuming
that individuals are free to interpret neutrally and in doing so denies the social
construction of interpretation, implies the neutrality of the social context and the
participants and effectively positions them outside the construction of the discourse.
Whilst these positions both merit consideration, the key concern is not that texts are
interpreted in one particular ideological manner but that the purposes and intentions of
texts are themselves questioned. It is the critical questioning of texts and discourses,
rather that the arrival at a pre-determined ideological interpretation, that is central here
and requires consideration of notions of positionality and the complex relationship
between analysis and interpretation.
A final criticism levelled at critical approaches to textual analysis is that they are
generally, and explicitly, partial and political. Critiques are always levelled against the
powerful groups in society, particularly from a left-of-centre perspective. We see
critiques of the discourse of Thatcherism (Fairclough 1989), the reporting of the nuclear
arms race (Chilton 1985) and the discourse of racism (van Dijk 1991). This raises the
need for the analyst to locate their work within an understanding of notions of reflectivity
and reflexivity, whereby the author does not only subject their understandings to (self)
critical scrutiny but is also aware that their previous experiences will affect the way they
interpret the present.
Indeed CDA advocates are not embarrassed by charges of partiality – they revel in it!
As Wodak and Meyer note:
"…critical discourse analysis research combines what perhaps somewhat pompously
used to be called ‘solidarity with the oppressed’ with an attitude of opposition and
dissent against those who abuse text and talk in order to establish, confirm or legitimate
their abuse of power. Unlike much other scholarship, CDA does not deny but explicitly
defines and defends its own socio-political position, That is CDA is biased – and proud
of it" (2001:96).
5. How to do CDA – a framework for analysis
Individual Activity
What set of criteria would you employ in analysing a text? What linguistic and non
linguistic elements would you look for? Make a few notes of your reflections on these
questions before moving on, and annotate them further as you continue with this
It is the intention of this Unit, as well as outlining the theoretical and conceptual bases of
CDA, to provide a practical analytical tool. One such approach is based on Hyatt (2006)
in which I opted for a set of criteria that will allow researchers, learners and teachers to
look at elements of the text at both a ‘micro’ lexico-grammatical level, as well as
consider the impact of such choices at more ‘macro’ semantic and societal levels. The
work is largely grounded in my own research on this area (Hyatt 2003), which itself was
informed by key work in systemics (Hunston and Thompson 2000, Martin 2000), in the
field of Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough 1995) and Critical Literacy (Luke and
Freebody 1997).
Research Bases of the Critical Literacy Frame
The research involved the collection of a corpus of 40 adversarial interviews, broadcast
between 1995 and 2001, for critical genre analysis, and the insights gleaned from this
regarding discourse structure and language choices are supplemented by 21
questionnaires, one letter response and 11 interviews with interviewers working for
terrestrial television channels. The corpus data gathered was analysed in terms of its
discourse structure and lexico-grammatical features and the informant data was
analysed categorically.
The criteria for the Frame, to be applied to texts, genres and discourses are outlined
1. Pronouns - Participant Choices
2. Passive/Active Forms - Transivity Choices
3. Time - Tense and Aspect
4. Adjectives, Adverbs, Nouns, Verbal Processes - Evaluation and Semantic
5. Metaphor
6. Presupposition/Implication
7. Medium
8. Audience
9. Visual Images
10. Age, Class, Disability, Gender, Race, Equity and Sexuality Issues
11. References to other texts, genres, discourses, individuals
The criteria have been ordered for pedagogical purposes and to allow analysts to move
from the more micro elements of lexico-grammar, through discourse semantics, register
and genre. This allows learners to ultimately map texts onto the notions of language,
and the extra-linguistic levels of context and ideology.
Figure 1 below diagrammatically represents the ways that these criteria relate to
linguistic and extra linguistic elements of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) theory
(Eggins 1994).
(10) Less-valued social groups
(11) Intertextuality / Interdiscursivity
(3) Temporal Context
(6) Presupposition
(5) Metaphor (literal and grammatical)
(1) Pronouns - Participant Choices
(3) Tense and Aspect
(4) Evaluation
(8) Audience
(2) Passive / Active
(7) Medium
(9) Visual
6. How to do CDA - Language Aspects
Criteria and Their Relevance
Analysts could and should supplement these criteria according to their contexts, the
context of the text(s) under examination and the needs of the research project.
Next I will offer a brief general gloss as to how I feel these aspects are relevant to such
an analysis.
Pronouns - Participant Choices
This aspect of the Frame considers the way in which pronouns may be used in the text,
whether they are inclusive (our, us, we, etc.) or exclusive (they, their, them, he, she, it,
you, your etc.). It also considers how the reader and other participants are positioned as
allies or in-group members with the author, thus assuming shared knowledge, beliefs
and values, or how readers and other participants are marginalised as ‘outsiders’ with
different beliefs and agendas. Pronouns are central to the way individuals and groups
are named and so are always political in the way they inscribe power relations.
Activisation and Passivisation
Transformations of active constructions into passive forms can be motivated by the
desire to elide agency and therefore systematically background responsibility for actions
in some instances or to foreground responsibility in others. The manipulation of agency
transparency serves to construct a world of various responsibilities, and power, e.g.
‘The present perfect is used to …’. By removing the agent, the use of a particular
grammatical form is given an unquestionable, universal function, in spite of its context of
use and the political dimensions I am raising here. Such an analysis is almost always
absent from textbooks and grammar reference books using such definitions.
I feel, however, that it is important to note that to assume that such a basic transitivity
shift as passivisation or activisation would lead to a complete shift in the understanding
of the reader would be an over-simplification and patronising to the reader. However, as
noted earlier, the construction is effected thorough a layering of strata of
representations and the claim for relevance of this aspect of the Frame is as one of
these myriad strata.
Time - Tense and Aspect
This relates to the way in which tense and aspect are used to construct ‘understanding’
about events. For example, the use of the present simple tense constructs an event as
reality or fact; the use of the present perfect simple constructs a past event as being of
relevance at the moment; the past simple tense can represent a past event as no longer
being important or relevant. The effect of tense choices can be demonstrated by
converting the past simple tenses to present perfect and vice versa and noting the
different semantic effects.
It is therefore important to understand that choices made in terms of tense and aspect
are not merely concerned with the time frame of an action or process but also impact
clearly on the representation of that action or process as true, relevant or significant.
Adjectives, Adverbs, Nouns, Verbal Processes
The use of loaded, dramatic, and stereotyping adjectives, adverbs and nouns are
central to the construction of an event or a person, whether or not that construction is
evaluating its object positively or negatively. Also the use of non-hedged adverbs, such
as surely, obviously, clearly and so on, position a contention as being incontrovertible
‘fact’. The use here of overgeneralisation and overstatement is worthy of note. Allinclusive expressions (all, every, none, no-one, always, never etc.) are rarely accurate,
but can be used to construct a generalising, stereotyping or over-simplifying evaluation.
Other comment adjuncts expressing the authors attitude to the whole proposition, such
as constantly, totally, entirely, absolutely, wholly, utterly, etc.fulfil the same purpose.
The concept of evaluation is useful here. Hunston and Thompson (2000:5) define
evaluation as
‘the broad cover term for the expression of the speaker or writer’s attitude or stance
towards, viewpoint on, or feelings about the entities or propositions that he or she is
talking about’
Evaluation can further be divided into two main categories, inscribed and evoked(Martin
In the inscribed category the evaluation is carried by a specific lexical item, overtly
displaying the attitudinal judgement of the text producer e.g. excellent, terrible, etc.
In addition to inscribed evaluation, it is also important to consider what Martin
termsevoked evaluation. This type of evaluation uses superficially neutral ideational
choices but which have the potential to evoke judgmental responses, in those who
share a particular set of ideological values. These evoked evaluations, in themselves do
not denote the text producer’s attitude to the content overtly, but leave the value
judgement to the reader/listener. However, they are mechanisms through which
evaluation is covertly constructed. For example in tourism texts (Cunha de Freitas 2000)
the terms natural and sunny operate at a experiential level yet do help to construct a
positive image and in food promotional text terms such as natural, andorganic operate
in a similar way. Negative evaluation can also be constructed by terms such
as suspected asylum seeker. Such mechanisms can be seen as powerful devices in a
hegemonic view of language construction in the role they play in projecting a notion of
‘common sense’.
Metaphor - Literal and Grammatical
Metaphor is more than just a literary device - it plays a fundamental part in the way
people represent social reality. The use of metaphor is central in the way it positions
what is described and the reader’s relationship to this. This is starkly seen in the
description of individuals or the personification of entities, e.g. Saddam Hussein was a
‘monster’, Margaret Thatcher was the ‘Iron Lady’ etc. It is also significant to realise that
the metaphor and its alternative congruent or literal form do not express exactly the
same meaning - indeed the purpose of metaphor is functional in that it serves to
construe a differently foregrounded meaning than its alternatives. Metaphors are neither
better nor worse than their congruent counterparts - they are simply performing different
It is significant to note that metaphors need not only be lexical but can be grammatical
as well (Halliday 1985: 319-345), whereby the meaning is expressed ‘through a lexicogrammatical form which originally evolved to express a different kind of meaning.’
(Thompson 1996: 165).
One clear example of grammatical metaphor is nominalization, or presenting as a noun
or noun phrase something that could be presented with other parts of speech, e.g. her
understanding as opposed to what she understood. This has the effect of making a text
more ‘lexically dense’, a feature commonly noted with ‘written’ texts. Characteristic of
this are more ‘packed’ texts, texts that are more information heavy, can make these
texts appear more prestigious, academic, and serious. It can construct an argument as
significant and well thought through. Ivanič (1997: 267) notes that through the process
of nominalisation ‘…writers identify themselves with those who engage in such
knowledge compacting, objectifying and capturing practices’ and so can represent
themselves as ‘intellectual’ or those who use ‘reasoned thought’.
Presupposition and Implication
Presuppositions help to represent constructions as convincing realities and there are a
number of lexico-grammatical means by which this can be achieved:
the use of negative questions and tags which presuppose a certain answer -isn’t
it the case that…?, wouldn’t it be fair to say that…?, you’re in even more
trouble, aren’t you?;
the use of factive verbs, adjectives and adverbs, verbs that presuppose their
grammatical complements, adjectives and adverbs that describe entities and
processes they presuppose, and therefore represent them as facts - we
we realize…,
we discovered that…,
you forget that…
I believe that…, as you will be aware…, odd…, obvious…, previously… and so
on. Factive verbs have been noted in Hoey (2000) as a form of embedded
the use of change of state verbs which presuppose the factuality of a previous
state - when did you stop beating your wife?, their policy on Europe
haschanged…, this school has improved…; transform, turn into, become, and
so on;
the use of invalid causal links presupposing that if one fact is true then the next is
also true - ‘90% of my class passed FCE this year, 80% of my class passed last
year, therefore my teaching is getting better…’;
rhetorical questions, which pre-suppose the answer implied by the questioner in
open questions – Is it not reasonable to ask the PM such questions? – or in the
case of closed (wh-) questions provide the questioner with the opportunity to
answer their own question, the question they have framed and therefore
presuppose the self-response as ‘true’ – What did they do to British
manufacturing industry? They destroyed it, that’s what.
The conversationalizing of a text is a form of interdiscursivity, which goes beyond the
ways in which texts borrow from, steal from and interpenetrate each other, to the ways
in which genres and discourses do this. Examples of interdiscursivity can be seen in the
way in which the discourse of business has penetrated the discourse of higher
education (Fairclough 1993), with the perception of students being addressed more
explicitly as customers and the attendant implications of this managerialist discourse value for money and accountability being positively associated with this change, and the
changing perception of teachers as being in need of scrutiny (Smyth 1995, Hargreaves
1994) being the negative aspect. In the same way the presentation of advertising copy
in a conversational style serves to imply a close social relationship between the
copywriter and the reader, which does not exist. This ‘masquerade’ (Hyatt 1994) of
friendship, a shared communication with a trusted confidant, an individual projected as
someone you can believe in, who wouldn’t lie to you, who has your best interests at
heart, can predispose the text receiver to believe what the text producer is
Typical characteristics of the medium of spoken discourse in political interviews include:
Use of a Narrative Present tense - such tense usage suggests the narrative
progression that is often associated with day-to-day conversations.
Representation of the talk of others, including the interlocutor - is a
technique for offering an antagonistic proposition without direct face-risk to the
propositioner. It is also a feature in the simulation of the voice of others, again
representing the ‘talk’ as a conversation.
Use of Present Continuous with narrative, verbal processes - as discussed
in Carter and McCarthy (1995) this is a grammatical feature of spoken
discourse, and can be used to emphasise the act of saying, as opposed to the
substantive content of what is being said. Logically, therefore it is a feature of
spoken discourse.
Conversational language - Discourse markers - there are myriad examples of
functional discourse markers, such as so, anyway, I mean…, Well,
OK, etc.which also contribute to a reading of certain exchanges as spoken
Central to the notion of language as a social semiotic is the idea that language is
utilized for some form of communication, and therefore a party or parties at whom
communication is aimed, in other words, the audience. Any analysis would therefore be
inadequate if it did not focus some attention on who is perceived as being the audience,
and how they are projected in terms of social distance - relationship to and familiarity
with the text producer - and status. In light of the fact that there is no way that the author
can know exactly who the audience is, the notion of audience can be read as an
idealised, projected construction. In this idealisation and projection, clues can be found
as to the ideological presuppositions of the text producers.
Visual Images
Significant recent work in these visual and multi-modal areas has been conducted by
Kress and van Leeuwen (2001: 4), particularly looking at "the four domains of practice in
which meanings are dominantly made".
"We call these strata to show a relation to Hallidayan functional linguistics, for reasons
of the potential compatibility of description of different modes. We do not however see
strata as being hierarchically ordered…Our four strata are discourse, design,
production and distribution."
In this theory of multimodal communication, discourses are seen as socially
constructed knowledges of reality, designs are the uses of semiotic resources to realise
discourses, production refers to the ‘organisation of the expression, to the actual
material articulation of the semiotic event’ (2001: 6) and distribution as the facilitation
of the pragmatic functions of preservation and distribution.
Historically, the association of the camera recording ‘a set image’ and as such being
associated with ‘truth’ and ‘objectivity’, has impacted on the way visual images are read.
Despite the potential for the manipulation of images, and the potential for displaying an
image with a constructed impression of its contextual setting, visual images do play a
powerful role in the construction of truth and reality. In this respect there are clear
relationships with notions of hegemony in presenting a picture of ‘this is how it is’. As
Fairclough notes (1995b:7) images have primacy over words.
Age, Class, Disability, Gender, Race/Ethnicity and Sexuality Issues
Within a text it can be revealing to note any comment regarding individuals who may be
projected as less socially valued, as a result of these issues, in order to legitimize the
assertions of those who hold power, or to identify any pejorative or stereotyping
presentation or labelling of such people as being a ‘normal’, naturalised and commonlyshared viewpoint. Whilst such concerns are central to any approach concerned with the
relationships of language to power, I feel it is justified in directing teachers and learners
to consider the impact these issues have on marginalised groups.
Cole (2001) has noted the impact that labelling has had in the area of educational
inclusion, noting Ballard’s (1995) argument that the language of Special Educational
Needs and in particular the term ‘special’ ensures continuing segregation, and well as
Corbett’s (1996) use of the term ‘bad mouthing’ to represent the type of labelling which
lays the blame for barriers to inclusion on individual ‘deficit’ rather than systemic
failures, such as the cultures, practices and policies of educational institutions.
Reference to Other Texts, Genres, Discourses and Individuals
One consistent way in which texts from all genres seek to establish the legitimacy of
their claims, their common-sense assumptions and their world views is through
reference to other texts, genres, discourses and individuals. Fairclough (1992) offers the
terms interdiscursivity (or constitutive intertextuality) for the wider appropriation of
styles, genres and the ideological assumptions underpinning discursive practice.
Interdiscursivity operates on a more macro level than intertextuality and refers to the
diverse ways in which genres and discourses interpenetrate each other, as exemplified
previously with the examples of the co-penetration of the discourses of advertising,
science and medicine, and the discourses of academia and consumerism (Fairclough
1993). Intertextuality is perhaps better viewed as the identifiable (either clearly or more
indistinctly) borrowings from other texts. Quotation from, citation of and reference to
other texts are lucid examples, whereas the use of phrasing, style and metaphor
originating in other texts may be more opaque, yet equally revealing.
The impact of intertextuality, where used as a technique for particular construction,
representation and projection of preferred meanings, can be to support reinforce and
legitimize the argument of the writer. Careful selection and editing of ‘borrowed’ texts,
and the utilization of other genres and discourses can achieve required evaluation, yet
reference to other texts, directly through quotation or indirectly, retains projected links to
‘reality’ and, hence, claims for the truth-value of the assertion. Key figures are often
used as their status is used to imply a legitimising respectability and again support the
claim to the truth content of the writer’s assertions. (c.f. the way academic writing uses
quotation and citation of key research literature.)
7. How to do CDA - Pre-analysis Orientation
Pre-Analysis Orientation
The Critical Literacy Frame is not meant to be a fixed framework, but can and should be
adapted depending on the contexts, needs and interests of the researcher. The choice
of texts to examine also does not need to be viewed as prescriptive - it can equally well
be used on a whole range of texts and genres, embracing a range of discourse types.
Prior to the actual textual analysis, I feel it is useful to engage and orient the researcher
with a series of macro-questions, aimed at fostering a critical outlook toward text in
general. The following are the questions that I have used, but again alternatives could
be used depending on the context, needs and interests of the researcher, so this list of
orientation questions needs to be viewed as a starting point for the critical orientation to
and consideration of texts, and the list could be supplemented, edited or adapted on the
texts considered or the research context of the consideration of the texts. The list as
presented is not intended to suggest any particular order of priority:
Is this a typical text of its type?
Who produced this?
Who will read it?
Will everyone understand this text in the same way?
Why was it produced?
In what other ways could it have been written?
What is missing from this text?
How does this text reflect the wider society?
What could we do about this text if we disagree with it?
Task 4
Peter Peacock and Euan Robson provide a Foreword (pages 3 to 8) to 'A Curriculum for
Excellence' 2004. The Report itself was produced for Scottish Executive by the
Curriculum Review group, identified at the end of the document.
Firstly, apply the 'orientation' questions above to the ACE document and discuss
answers across the group. Then, in pairs, choose a section from the document and
apply the elements of the Critical Literacy Frame that you feel to be appropriate to an
analysis of your selected section. How useful was the framework, from your joint
8. Conclusion
Farahmandpur & McLaren (2001), along with others working in differing disciplines (Gee
1990, Street 1999, Barton & Hamilton 1998), have noted that notions of literacy, and a
critical conception of literacy in particular, as argued for by proponents of CDA, are
changing and developing from simple notions of reading and writing to new conceptions
incorporating a potential for social action aimed at enhancing social justice. As they
"Captivated by new forms of media technology and popular culture, students are faced
with the daunting task of becoming multi-literate. In addition to becoming literate in the
traditional sense of displaying verbal and written communication, students are engaged
(often with the help of their teachers) in decoding and analyzing the meanings and
messages generated by advertising, commercial and film industries. In other words
students realize even before many professional educators that the media are excellent
teachers; they serve society as forms of 'perpetual pedagogy' or pedagogy in constant
motion." (2001:3).
Within this unit, I have sought to focus on the role of CDA in encouraging awareness,
through the investigation of powerful discourses, of the ways in which systems of power
affect people by the meanings they construct and represent. CDA attempts to
investigate and elucidate the ways in which textual practices should be seen as social
practices, taking place within social, historical, and political contexts. The analysis seeks
to suggest ways in which questions can be raised regarding textual practices and the
issues of power that underlie them, and how such question-raising can be related to
concerns for critical thinking, a commitment to social justice and an orientation to social
action to achieve this.
As Farahmandpur & McLaren go on to assert:
"Preparing students for critical citizenship through critical literacy deepens the roots of
democracy by encouraging students to actively participate in public discourses and
debates over social economic and political issues that affect everyday life in their own
and neighbouring communities. In this way, students can acquire the civic courage and
moral responsibility to participate in democratic life as critical social agents, becoming
authors of their own history rather than being written off by history" (2001:3).
CDA therefore represents one step along such a pathway to encouraging the critical
decoding and analysis of powerful texts and discourses that can facilitate such critical
social agency, and as such augment notions of critical pedagogy.
For those interested this area, follow-up reading is available in these two on-line
 Threadgold T. (2003) ‘Cultural Studies, Critical Theory and Critical Discourse
1. Discourse
A term with several related and often quite loose meanings. (1) Perhaps in its most general
usage, it can refer to any form of ‘language in use’ (Brown and Yule 1983) or naturally occurring
language. (2) It can also refer more specifically to spoken language, hence the term
DISCOURSE MARKER, which tends to refer to speech. Stubbs (1983: 9) also makes a
distinction between dis-course, which is interactive, and text, which is a non-interactive
(3) Another meaning conceives discourse as ‘language above the sentence or above the clause’
(Stubbs 1983: 1) and would lend itself to the analysis of text structure and pragmatics. (4)
Discourse can also be used to refer to particular contexts of language use, and in this sense it
becomes similar to concepts like genre or text type. For example, we can conceptualize political
discourse (the sort of language used in political contexts) or media discourse (language use in the
media). (5) In addition, some writers have conceived of discourse as related to particular topics,
such as an environmental discourse or colonial discourse (which may occur in many different
genres). Such labels sometimes suggest a particular attitude towards a topic (e.g. people
engaging in envir-onmental discourse would generally be expected to be concerned with
protecting the environment rather than wasting resources). (6) Related to this, Foucault (1972:
49) defines discourse more ideologically as ‘practices which systematically form the objects of
which they speak’. Burr (1995:48) expands on Foucault’s definition as
a set of meanings, metaphors, representations, images, stories, statements and so on that in
some way together produce a particular version of events . . . Surrounding any one object,
event, person etc., there may be a variety of different discourses, each with a different story to
tell about the world, a different way of representing it to the world.
(7) Sunderland (2004) takes Foucault’s meaning a stage further by explicitly identifying and
naming specific discourses such as ‘women beware women’ and ‘male sexual drive’ (see
DISCOURSE NAMING, GENDERED DISCOURSE). Discourses are not articulated
explicitly but traces of them can be found in language use. The more ideological uses of
discourses, which occur towards the end of this list, reflect postmodernist thinking. Potter and
Wetherell (1987) have shown that people often appear to voice conflicting opinions around a
topic, which they argue is due to them accessing a range of competing discourses in their talk.
Discourses are therefore contradictory and shifting, and their identification is necessarily
interpretative and open to contestation, particu-larly as it is difficult to ‘step outside’ discourse
and view it with complete objectivity. Foucault (1972: 146) notes, ‘it is not possible for us to
describe our own archive, since it is from within these rules that we speak’.
2. Power
Power is our ability to control our environment, our own lives and those of others. The German
sociologist Max Weber (1925: 28) gave a much-quoted definition of power (Macht), which
according to Kronman (1983: 38) trans-lates to ‘the probability that one actor within a social
relationship will be in a position to carry out his [sic] own will despite resistance, regardless of
the basis on which this probability rests’. Foucault (1979b) contrasts sovereign power with
disciplinary power or what Fairclough (1989: 33) similarly formu-lates as coercion or consent.
The former is exercised by the state or sovereign, who had the power to punish, coerce or kill
people. Disciplinary power, on the other hand, is a way of ensuring that people exercise selfcontrol or sub-mit to the will of ‘experts’. For Foucault, disciplinary power is a much more
efficient method of control than sovereign power, and this has become the main form of power
that most people in western societies tend to encounter in their day-to-day lives. Talbot (1998:
193) points out, ‘Real social power does not reside in big muscles . . . Power resides elsewhere:
in being at the head of a corporation, a general leading an army, a senator or an MP’.
Critical discourse analysts have tended to focus on how disciplinary power is created, maintained
and challenged. For example, Fairclough (1995: 1), fol-lowing Foucault, defines power not only
as asymmetries that exist between individuals participating in the same discursive event but also
in terms of how people have different capacities to control how texts and thus discourses are
produced, distributed and consumed. Van Dijk (1996: 85) notes that ‘social power and
dominance are often organised and institutionalised, so as to allow more effective control and to
enable routine forms of power reproduction’. This means that power is successful precisely
because it is reenacted in routine activities which are not questioned but instead seen as normal
Power is linked to discourse because discourses are ways of representing and constructing reality
so that power relations are constructed, maintained and contested via discourses. It is because of
the link to discourse that power relations are never static. The inverse of power is
RESISTANCE (see also STRUGGLE, SUBVERSION). As discourses compete for
ascendancy, formerly dominant dis-courses may be challenged, and even replaced, by formerly
marginal discourses resulting in a shift in power relations as well as social change.
Power is not necessarily a bad thing – for example, a student and teacher are obviously in an
asymmetrical power relationship, although here the relation-ship is usually (hopefully) beneficial
rather than detrimental to the student. Indeed, some critical discourse analysts have focused on
cases of abuses of power, for example, where power has harmful consequences, while
POSITIVE DISCOURSE ANALYSIS focuses on cases where the power utilized by text
holders is used for good. A post-structuralist view of power is that it is connected to human
agency and that no one individual is placed as powerful across all discourses. Thus, one can be
powerful in one context and powerless in another (see also Baxter 2003).
3. Ideology
Ideology can generally be thought of as the set of ideas, beliefs and aims that a person or group
holds. Fairclough (1992: 87), drawing on Althusser (1971), views ideologies as ‘constructions of
reality . . . which are built into various dimensions of the forms/meanings of discursive practices,
and which contribute to the production, reproduction or transformation of relations of
domination’. Language is one way that ideologies are constructed, main-tained and challenged.
Fairclough (1992: 88–89) notes that it is not possible to ‘read off’ ideologies from texts because
‘meanings are produced through interpretations of texts’.
4. Ideological State Apparatus And Repressive State Apparatus
Marxist are the community which are against the capitialistic societies because of injustice
distribution of money which always created a split between poor and rich as well as state and
individual .The term ideological state apparatus is coined by Marxist theorist Louis Althusser to
demonstrated the institutions such as education ,churches, trade union ,school, media, family ,
which are outside of state control but these institutions are a mode to internalized the state
ideology above all reproduce the capitalistic relation of production.
Ideological state apparatus are institutions that internalized the state primary ideology without
any fear and violence whereas repressive state apparatus are the institutions that are controlled
by elite class through propagates the ideology in their favour. Louis Althusser concept of
ideological state apparatus and repressive state apparatus divided society into infrastructure and
superstructure .Infrastrcture are economic baised and superstructure included the political and the
legal institutions as well as ideology(religious,moral and political).The main thing that
distinguishes the ISAs from SAs is ideology.The ideological State Apparatus function by
primary ideology whereas The Repressive State Apparatus function by secondary ideology
(moulded ideology in their favour by the state).The rulling class must maintain a degree of
control over the ISAs in order to impose the stability of the SAs .it is much harder for rulling
class to maintain their control over a long period of time , therefore there is a continual struggle
for the hegemony.there are two main ways in the hand of rulling class to create their control
over ISAs that are education system and wages system. The education system is the main source
to exploit the ideology because rulling class used the education system in their advantage
.According to Althusser that “Those teachers who , in dreadful conditions , attempt to learn few
weapons they can find in the history and learning they teach against the ideology ,the system
and the practices in which they are trapped ….are a kind of hero” whereas wages system
maintain the reproduction of the relation of production in which labour work day and night for
limited amount of money .In this way rulling class exploit , subjugate and repress the working
class .The theory of ideological state apparatus is criticized by the Marxist due to relationship
between institution and state. Among Marxist the same term is denoted as repressive state
apparatus as a tool in the hand of government to securing the intrest of particular class and
reproduce the capitialistic relation of production.
5. Social Institutions
Social institutions are the standardized rule governed pattern of behaviours.They included the
family, education, religion, social and economic institutions. According to Marxist perspective
social institutions are determined by societies mode of producton and help the dominant class to
main the power. Like Marxist Foucault demonstrated that institutions are a way of freezing
particular way of power so that a certain class of people get advantage. Foucault illuminated the
relationship between power and knowledge that how dominant class propagates the knowledge
and control the society through social institutions.The relationship between power and
knowledge is central to Foucault’s work in discipline and Punish(1975).Foucault point is that
knowledge and power are interrelated ,one cannot exists without other. The techniques of
punishment depends on knowledge that classifies individual(age,social status,race) and
knowledge is propagates by certain relation of power and domination. In this way under the
guise of improvement the dominant class created a hegemony over institutions.Hegemony cannot
be identified by any one of institution or apparatus rather all the institutions are linked together
and power is omnipresent at every level of social body.
6. Hegemony
Hegemony is leadership as well as domination across the cultural,political,economic and
ideological aspects of a society. Hegemony is about constructing treaty with mutual consent in
which a class of society had succeeded in persuading other classes to accept its political , moral
and cultural values with active willingness.The basic concept of hegemony illuminated that man
is not rulled by force but also by ideas.
The concept of cultural hegemony is associated with Antonio Gramsci who claimed that rulling
class manipulated the culture of the society i-e beliefs, explanations, perceptions, and values .In
this way the ruling class world view taken as granted as natural and became the world view of
whole society.For Gramsci ideology is tied to action and ideology are judged in terms of their
social effects rather than the true values. Hegemony control the society by manipulated ideas
through language .The words we write or speak are shaped by social interaction and dominant
ideology of the times. Thus they are linked with the cultural meanings that condition us to think
in particular ways and blind us for other perspectives. Gramsci point is that we have been
conditioned by our language to think and feel , through language the ruling class manipulated the
ideology that will dominant the rest of the society because of unavoidable influence of
capitalistic relations. Media are the instruments to express the dominant ideology as an integral
part of the cultural environment. therefore hegemony represents not only political and economic
control ,but also the ability of dominant class to project their interests as common sense and
natural and those who are subordinated by it ,accepted it with active consent.we can defined
hegemony as the way a subordinate class living its subordination and a dominant class maintain
their control without fight.
7. Social Structure
Social structure is society’s overall layout of elements and relationships in which every
individual is assigned a particular location that shapes their behaviour . Social structure
constructed and organized society through every aspect of life like stratification, social
institutions, social networks, norms to create a sense of wholeness. social structure based upon
established patterns of interaction through accepted norms and shared values.
Sir Herbert Spencer used the term first time that social structure refers to the way in which the
parts are interconnected so that the entity emerges as an integrated whole which for the purpose
of analysis can be broken down into individual parts .He defined social structure through two
Analogy of house
Analogy of organism
Analogy of house illuminated that house is composed of different rooms in which different
activities has been taken place like play room, study room ,kitchen ,prayer room , bed room .All
the rooms have their own specific purposes and locations .Through doors rooms are connected
with house .House is a entity which is part of larger entity like village and through door house is
connected with the outerworld. Similarly village is connected with different entities like town or
city to maintain their postion. The same point is come out very clearly in second analogy. The
society is like an organism. The main unit of organism is cell . Cells combined to form tissues
and tissues combined to form organism.
Like the above two analogy the social structure exists through connected different levels and
locations . The basic unit of society is socialized individual that who are internalized social
norms, values and way of behaviours. Socialised individuals are combined to form groups and
groups are combined to form communities and communities are combined to form societies.
As a human beings we are socially constructed and unable to live alone because man is a social
animal .Only beasts or perhaps god live alone.
8. Production
Production refers to processes that are involved in the creation of a TEXT. As with analysis of
RECEPTION, analysis of text production can be one stage of CRITICAL DISCOURSE
ANALYSIS (Fairclough 1989: 24–26). Analysts may ask questions such as under what
circumstances was a text produced, who produced it, for what purposes and what constraints
were placed on the production of the text (e.g. was censorship involved).
Text production takes place within a specific discursive practice, which is one aspect of social
practice. For example, the production of a newspaper text takes place with the discursive
practices of news production within the main social practice of the media as an industry. Text
production involves processes based on internalized social structures and conventions. Therefore,
the production of each text is constrained by the social conventions within which it is produced.
9. Reception
Reception theory is an approach to textual analysis which focuses on audi-ences and how they
interpret texts (such as a magazine, book, film, piece of music etc.). Stuart Hall (1973) developed
a theory of encoding and decoding which stipulates that audiences can have three possible
reactions to a text. First, there is a dominant or PREFERRED READING which coincides with
how the creator of the text wished it to be understood. Secondly, there is an oppo-sitional reading
(see RESISTANT READER), whereby the audience interprets the text in a different way to the
way it was intended to be understood. Finally, there is a negotiated meaning which involves a
kind of compromise position between the first two meanings.
A study of reception may also consider other forms of analysis, looking at what sorts of people
actually consumed the text, for what reasons and in what contexts. This could involve
quantitative research (e.g. considering viewing figures or comparing different demographic
groups) and/or carrying out RESEARCH INTERVIEWS or FOCUS GROUPS with people
who have encountered the text. Consideration of reception can also be a consideration of
10. Socially constitutive
Socially constitutive refers to the state of being able to influence or shape how society is
structured. Fairclough (1993, 1995) theorises that texts, lan-guage use and discourses are socially
constitutive – they contribute towards the constitution of various aspects of society or culture by
creating systems of knowledge, social subjects and the relationships between them. However,
this is a two-way process. So language is not only socially constitutive but it is also socially
determined. Societies help to shape languages, for example, by determining which concepts are
named. So the Mr/Miss/Mrs term of address system in English both reflects and constructs
societal views about gender. Therefore, society and discourse or society and language are
mutually constitutive.
11. Social practice
A social practice is a body of structured, usually institutionalized, activities mediated through
language. For example, politics, the media and the law are social practices that have language as
an integral part of those practices. Language itself is a social practice because it is an intrinsic
part of a society. Fairclough (2001: 122) notes that a social practice has the following elements:
productive activity, means of production, involves social relations, social identities, cultural
values, consciousness and semiosis. These do not occur as discrete and autonomous entities but
are all ‘dialectically’ related; the different elements of a social practice shape each other. Social
practice is one dimension of Fairclough’s three-dimensional conception of discourse (the other
12. Subject position
Davies and Harré (1990: 48) define positioning as ‘the discursive process whereby selves are
located in conversations as observably and subjectively coherent participants in jointly produced
storylines. There can be interactive positioning in which what one person says positions another,
and there can be reflexive positioning in which one positions oneself’. Therefore, in discourse,
social actors or individuals are ascribed certain roles and identities which are referred to as
subject positions. For example, if a man refers to a woman as ‘honey’, then he is positioning her
in a certain way. He could be suggesting that she is desirable or be implying that he has or would
like to have a more intimate relationship with her. He may also be positioning her as inferior to
him. The woman could respond in a way which confirms the subject position, or she could
challenge it, for example, ‘I’m not your honey’. Individuals occupy multiple subject positions at
various points (e.g. parent, boss, teacher, social activist) depending on the SOCIAL
PRACTICE they are involved in and its related discourses (Hutcheon 1989, Jørgensen and
Phillips 2002, Baxter 2003).
13. Subjectivity
From a western humanist perspective, subjectivity is a term that is used to describe the
relationship between the individual and his/her environment which sees the individual as a
unique and autonomous entity (Hutcheon 1989, Jørgensen and Phillips 2002). This view has
been criticised by postmodernists who see subjectivities as being constructed through discourse
14. Discursive practice
Fairclough (1992: 78) defines discursive practice as involving ‘processes of text production,
distribution and consumption’. These processes are ‘social and require reference to the particular
economic, political and institutional settings within which discourse is generated’ (ibid.: 71). In
Fairclough’s three-dimensional model of discourse, discursive practice comes between TEXT
15. Discursive psychology
A form of discourse analysis developed by Edwards and Potter (1992), but see also Potter and
Wetherell (1987). It has a range of influences, including social studies of science (Gilbert and
social psychology (Billig 1987) and writings of philosophers like Wittgenstein. It was set up as a
means of critiquing ways that traditional psychology understands, topics like ATTITUDES,
ACCOUNTS and memory. When analysing interview data, Potter and Edwards noted that many
interview respondents produce inconsistent or variable versions or accounts and that rather than
the analyst attempting to discount such inconsistencies or identify the ‘correct’ one, an
alternative was to treat such inconsistencies within the context of their occurrence to show how
people handle interactional contingencies, argue points or tailor their talk to specific rhetorical
uses. Discursive psychology therefore focuses on close qualitative analyses of spoken
interactions (interviews, FOCUS GROUPS or naturally occurring conversations within realworld situations like counselling, helplines or dispute resolution), viewing talk as social action.
Edwards (2005: 260) writes,
Rather than people having memories, script knowledge, attitudes, and so on, that they carry
around in their heads and produce on cue (or in RESEARCH INTERVIEWS), people are
shown to formulate or work up the nature of events, actions, and their own accountability
through ways of talking. These ways of talking are both constructive and action oriented. They
are constructive in the sense that they offer a particular version of things when there are
indefinitely many potential versions, some of which may be available and alive in the setting.
16. Interdiscursivity
A term used by Foucault (1972) and also adopted in CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS by
Fairclough (1995: 134–135) to refer to the ‘constitution of a text from diverse discourses and
genres’. Fairclough’s use of the term is inspired by and related to the concept of
INTERTEXTUALITY and is sometimes referred to as ‘constitutive intertextuality’ (Fairclough
1992: 124). Interdiscursivity can involve the way that some genres or structures associated with
genres seem to ‘seep into’ others – for example, Fairclough (1995: 135–166) describes how
promotional discourses (associated with marketing or advertising) occur in university
prospectuses and newspaper advertisements for university lectureships (an advert for a job also
functions as an advert for a university’s own achievements). See also COLONIZATION.
Interdiscursivity can also refer to identifying relationships between discourses. For example, a
discourse which constructs women as emotional may be a smaller part of the higher order
‘gender differences’ discourse.
17. Order of discourse
A term coined by Foucault (1971, 1984). Fairclough (1992: 43, 1993: 138) defines order of
discourse as the ‘totality of discursive practices in an institu-tion and the relationships between
them’. He later describes an order of discourse as ‘a particular combination of genres, discourses
and styles which constitutes the discoursal aspect of a network of social practices . . . In general
terms [they are] . . . the social structuring of linguistic variation or difference – there are always
many different possibilities in language, but choice amongst them is socially structured’
(Fairclough 2003: 220).
18. Reconceptualization
Recontextualization refers to ways in which text or parts of text are taken from their original
setting or context and then used in different contexts.
Bernstein (1990: 184) points out that semantic shifts take place ‘according to recontextualizing
principles which selectively appropriate, relocate, refocus and relate to other discourses to
constitute its own order and orderings’. Linell (1998) suggests that this can be achieved in three
(1) intratextual, where a part of a text is referred to within the same text, either earlier or later;
(2) intertextual, where part or all of another text is referred to in another text and (3)
interdiscursive, where types of discourses are recontextualized.