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Welcome to All
Course Code: E 300 A
Course Name
English Language and Literacy
Language and Power
Norman Fairclough
Ch1: Introduction: critical language study
 The critical study of language raises consciousness of
exploitative social relations and the role of power and ideology.
 Critical language study analyses social interactions in a way
that focuses upon their linguistic elements uncovering the role
of social relationships and their effect.
 Approaches to language study
Earlier approaches to language study include:
Cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence
Conversation and discourse analysis.
 The term linguistics refers to all the branches of language study
which are inside the academic discipline of linguistics. It is
sometimes termed “linguistics proper” when it is the study of the
sound system of a language (phonology), the grammatical
structure of words (morphology), sentence and word order
(syntax) and more formal aspects of meaning (semantics).
 Linguistics is accused of holding a narrow conception of
language study and of giving little attention to actual speech or
writing. It perceives language as a potential, a system, an
abstract competence, rather than describing actual language
practice. Linguistics assumes an idealized view of language
which isolates it from the social and historical matrix outside of
which it cannot actually exist.
 Sociolinguistics developed under the influence of anthropology
and sociology and looked at socially conditioned variation in
 Sociolinguistics focuses on the relations without attending to
the social conditions that made them and the conditions
surrounding their change.
 Anglo-American pragmatics is closely associated with analytical
philosophy, particularly with the works of Austin and Searle on
“speech acts”. The key insight is that language is seen as a
form of action: that spoken or written utterances constitute the
performance of speech acts such as promising or asking or
asserting or warning, or on a different plane, referring to people
or things and implicating meanings which are not overtly
 The idea of uttering as acting is an important one that is also
central to CLS. The main weakness of pragmatics from a
critical point of view is its “Individualism”: action is thought of as
emanating wholly from the individual and is often
conceptualized in terms of the strategies adopted by the
individual speaker to achieve his or her goals.
Cognitive psychology and Artificial Intelligence
 Discrepancies exist between what is said and what is meant,
and with how people work out what is meant from what is said.
Processes of comprehension and processes of production are
investigated by cognitive psychologists and workers in artificial
intelligence concerned with computer simulation of production
and comprehension matching features of utterance at various
levels with representations stored in long-term memory.
 These representations are prototypes for a very diverse
collection of things referred to as Members’ Resources or MR.
MRs are socially determined and ideologically shaped. The
processes of production and comprehension are essential to an
understanding of the interrelations of language, power and
Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis
 Conversation analysis is one prominent approach within
discourse analysis that has been developed by a group of
sociologists known as “ethnomethodologists”.
Ethnomethodologists study how people organize and
understand their everyday activity.
 Conversation analysis studies natural conversation in terms of
linguistic characteristics and use. CA has demonstrated that
conversation is systematically structured, and that there is
evidence of the orientation of participants to these structures in
the ways in which they design their own conversational turns
and react to those of others.
 Conversation analysis, however, has been resistant to
making connections between “micro” structures of the
conversation and the “macro” structures of social
institutions and societies.
Ch 2: Discourse as Social Practice
 Language is centrally involved in power and struggle for
power through its ideological properties.
Language and discourse:
Language is conceived of in terms of discourse: language
structures influenced by social practice that is determined by
social structures.
 Discourse and orders of discourse: discourse is
determined by socially constituted orders of discourse; sets of
conventions associated with social institutions.
Class and power: orders of discourse are ideologically
shaped by power relations in social institutions.
 Dialectic of structures and practices: discourse has effects
upon social structures as well as being determined by them.
 There is a need to conceive of actual discourse as a
manifestation of unequal relationships between participants
who are firmly in control, who do not need to mitigate their
discourse and whose language exchange is reduced to minimal
phrases. Control is exercised with no acknowledgement of the
other’s contribution, interruptions and allowing no interruptions
to own turn. Control is exercised with minimal answers and
closing off interruption.
 Discourse properties are determined by social conditions and
the nature of the relationship. Social conditions determine
properties of discourse, the process of producing and
interpreting texts and how these cognitive processes are
socially shaped and relative to social conventions. The focus is
two-fold: the social determination of language use and the
linguistic determination of society.
 Language and discourse
Language is conceived of as a form of social practice.
 Langue and Parole
Saussure regarded “Langue” as a system or code that is prior
to actual language use. “Parole” is determined by individual
choices. Language use “parole” is characterized by extensive
linguistic variation. Sociolinguistics has shown that this variation
is not, as Saussure thought, a product of individual choice, but
a product of social differentiation: Language varies according to
the social identities of people in interaction, their socially
defined purposes, social setting, and so on. So, Saussure’s
individualistic notion of “Parole” is unsatisfactory and instead
the term discourse is used to commit to the view that language
use is socially (not individually) determined.
 Saussure understood that “Langue” is something unitary and
homogeneous throughout a society. A variety of language is
standardized as a result of economic, political and cultural
influences in a particular historical epoch. What we really have
is politically motivated linguistic theory.
 Saussure’s langue/parole distinction is a general one
underlying social conventions and actual use. Langue and its
conventions of use are the site of power struggle and diversity,
rather than being unitary and homogeneous.
 Discourse as social practice
 Language is part of society, not external to it. It is a socially
conditioned process. Linguistic phenomena are social in the sense
that whenever people speak, listen, write or read, they do so in ways
which are determined socially, and which have social effects. Social
phenomena are linguistics, in the sense that the language activity
which goes on in social contexts is not merely a reflection or
expression or expression of social processes and practices, but is
part of those processes and practices.
 The term Discourse is used to refer to the whole process of
social interaction, of which the text is just a part.
 The process of production, for which the text is a product
and the process of interpretation for which the text is a
resource are also included in the analysis.
 Discourse involves social conditions which can be specified
as social conditions of production and social conditions of
interpretation. These social conditions relate to three
different levels of social organization:
 - The level of the social situation or the immediate social
environment in which the discourse occurs.
 - The level of the social institution which constitutes a wider
matrix for the discourse.
 - The level of society as a whole.
 These social conditions shape the Members’ Resources
(MR) that people bring to course production and
interpretation, which in turn shape the way in which texts
are produced and interpreted.
 Discourse as text, interaction and context:
 In seeing language as discourse and as social practice, one is
committing oneself not just to analyzing texts, not just to
analyzing processes of production and interpretation, but to
analyzing the relationship between texts, processes and
their social conditions: the immediate conditions of the
situational context and the more remote conditions of
institutional and social structures.
 The relationship between texts, interactions and contexts
corresponds to three dimensions of critical discourse
 - Description: is the stage which is concerned with the formal
properties of the text, identifying and labeling formal features of
a text and transcribing speech.
 - Interpretation: is concerned with the relationship between
text and interaction. The text is seen as the product of a
process of production and a resource in the process of
interpretation. The fours of interpretation of the text influences
the way of transcribing it.
 - Explanation: is concerned with the relationship between
interaction and social context with the social determination of
the processes of production and interpretation: interactions,
social orders of discourse, social structures which shape them
and their social effects.
 Verbal and visual language:
 Texts are essentially verbal but talk is interwoven with gestures,
facial expressions, movement, posture, to such an extent that it
cannot be properly understood without reference to these
 Discourse and orders of discourse:
 Social conditions of discourse and the determination of
discourse by social structures and the way in which actual
discourse is determined by underlying conventions of
discourse, termed Orders of discourse by Michel Foucault,
embody particular ideologies. Social preconditions for action
prescribe that the individual is able to act only in so far as there
are social conventions to act within.
 Discourse and practice are constrained by interdependent
networks (orders): orders of discourse and social orders.
 The term social order refers to the particular social space
(domain) associated with various types of practice.
Social order
Order of discourse
Types of practice
Types of discourse
Actual Practice
Actual discourse
 Social orders and orders of discourse:
 The order of discourse of a social institution structures
constituent discourses in a particular way. The order of
discourse of the society structures the orders of discourse of
the various social institutions in a particular way.
 How discourses are structured in a given order of discourse,
and how structuring change over time, are determined by
changing relationships of power at the level of the social
institution or of the society.
 Discourse draws upon predictable discourse types associated
with social institutions.
 Class and power
 The social conditions of discourse at the societal and
institutional levels suggest how social structures at these levels
determine discourse. The way in which orders of discourse are
structured and the ideologies which they embody are
determined by the relationship of power in particular social institutions
 There is a need to be sensitive in critical discourse analysis to
properties of society and institutions associated with the text
under examination.
 Institutional practices that people draw upon often embody
assumptions (or ideologies) that directly or indirectly legitimize
existing power relations. Practices become naturalized and
types of discourse function to sustain unequal power relations.
 Power relations, class relations and social struggle
 Power relations are always relations of struggle. Social struggle
occurs between groupings. It may be more or less intense and
may appear in more or less overt forms, but all social
developments and any exercise of power take place under
conditions of social struggle in a society where power relations
are characterized by monopoly.
 In modern societies, there is a special relation between
ideology and exercise of power by consent as opposed to
coercion, but social control is increasingly practiced. Discourse
is the favorite vehicle of ideology and therefore control by
 Dialectic of structures and practices
 The relationship between discourse and social structures is
dialectical in the way that discourse assures such importance in
terms of power relationship and power struggle. Social practice
does not merely reflect a reality. Social practice is in an active
relationship to reality and changes in reality. Social structures
determine discourse and are also a product of discourse. Social
roles become subject positions, part of social structures.
Discourse types determine discourse practice which
reproduces discourse types.
 Social subjects are constrained to operate within the subject
positions set up in discourse types. Being constrained is a
precondition for being enabled. Discourse types are a resource
for subjects, but the activity of combining them is a creative
one. Orders of discourse embody ideological assumptions and
these sustain and legitimize existing relations of power.
 Social institutions has the hidden agenda of reproducing class
relations and other higher level social structures, in addition to
the overt agenda, e.g. educational, work flow, institutional, etc.
In discourse people can be legitimizing or delegitimizing
particular power relations without necessarily being conscious
of doing so.
Chapter 3: Discourse and Power.
In exploring the various dimensions of the relations of language
and power we focus on two major aspects:
1- power in discourse, and
2- power behind discourse
 Power in discourse is concerned with discourse as a phase
where relations of power are exercised and enacted. Examples
are Face-to-Face spoken discourse, cross-cultural discourse
and the discourse of the mass media exercising hidden power.
Power behind discourse, reflecting dimensions of the social
orders of social institutions or societies, are themselves shaped
and constrained by relations of power. Examples are the effects
of power in the differentiation of dialects into standard and nonstandard, the conventions associated with particular discourse
types, e.g. classroom discourse.
 The final argument underlines the view that power, wherever it
be “in” or “behind” discourse is never definitively held by any
person or social grouping, because power can be won or
exercised through the dynamics of social interaction in which it
may also be lost. Fairclough takes a Marxist view in interpreting
it all from the perspective of social struggle of classes.
 1-Power in Discourse
 Face-to-face discourse where participants are unequal reflect an
unequal encounter. Manifestations of this aspect are found in the
number of interruptions by the powerful participant directed to
constrain and to control the contribution of the non-powerful. Three
types of constraints are exercised and enacted:
constraints on content : enacted in the discourse
constraints on relations: enacted in the discourse
constraints on the subject position: that people can
occupy in the discourse.
 All of these constraints are very closely connected, they overlap
 All the directive speech acts (orders and questions) come from
the powerful participant. The non-powerful has the obligation to
comply and answer, in accordance with the subordinate relation
of his role.
 The constraints derive from the conventions of the discourse
type. It is the prerogative of the powerful participant to
determine which discourse type(s) may be legitimately drawn
upon. Thus, in addition to directly constraining contributions,
powerful participants can further constrain discourse by opting
for a particular discourse type. Once a discourse type has been
selected, its conventions would constrain and regulate the flow
of the interaction/discourse exchanged. However, the more
powerful participants may allow or disallow varying degrees of
latitude to less powerful participants.
Cross-cultural encounters: are unequal encounters where
possibilities for culturally-based miscommunication are ample.
In gate-keeping encounters, e.g. job interview, gate-keepers
come from the dominant culture they constrain the discourse
types which can be drawn upon to those of the dominant
grouping, including all expected conventions of the exchange,
linguistically (appropriate turn-taking strategies, phatic
communion, sequencing of information, direct/indirect
responses etc.) and extra-linguistically (gaze, proxemics, head
movement body position, etc. ).
 Media discourse is characterized by the use of hidden
power for participants who are separated in time and place. The
discourse used in television, ratio, film and newspaper involve
hidden relations of power. Media discourse is one-sided as
opposed to face-to-face interaction, where discourse is
exchanged between two participants. In Media discourse,
producers exercise power over consumers by determining what
is included and excluded and how events are represented.
 An interesting manifestation of power in mass media is the
perspective whose perspective is adopted. In British media, the
balance of sources and perspectives and ideology is
overwhelmingly in favour of existing power-holders. Media
operate as a means for the expression and reproduction of the
power of the dominant class and bloc. The mediated power of
existing power-holders is also a hidden power, because it is
implicit in the practices of the media rather than being explicit.
Linguistic strategies reflecting power include Nominalization
and causality. A process is expressed as a noun, with the effect
of hiding crucial aspects of the process through the grammar
form selected.
 Media discourse is able to exercise manipulative and powerful
influence on social reproduction, but people do negotiate their
relationship to the ideal subjects proposed by media discourse.
However the exercise of media power by power holders is
perceived as professional practices.
 Hidden power can sometimes be a characteristic of face-to-face
discourse. A close connection between requests and power is
identified, as the right to request someone to do something
often derives from having power. There are however, many
grammatically different forms for making requests. Some are
direct and mark the power relationship explicitly, while others
are indirect and leave it more implicit.
 Direct requests are typically expressed grammatically in
imperative sentences. Indirect requests can be expressed
grammatically in questions of various degrees of elaborateness
and corresponding indirectness, including hints. The “power
behind discourse” is also a hidden power, in that the shaping of
orders of discourse by relations of power is not generally
apparent to people.
 2- Power behind discourse
The social order of discourse (the connections of the exchange) 
is put together and held together as a hidden effect of power.
 Example, standardization, whereby a particular social dialect,
is elevated into what is called a standard, or even a national,
 Standard Language
Standardization is a part of a much wider process of economic,
political and cultural unification. We can think of its growth as a
long process of colonization, whereby it gradually “took
over” the major social institutions of literature, government and
administration, law, religion and education.
Standard English emerges as the language of political and
cultural power, and as the language of the politically and
culturally powerful. Standard English was regarded as correct
English, and other social dialects were stigmatized not only in terms
of correctness but also in terms which indirectly reflected on the
lifestyles, morality and so forth of their speakers.
 Standard English moved to prescription through codification
and was portrayed as the national language, although it
remains a social dialect.
The power behind discourse: a discourse type portray
through the discourse conventions particular power relations
associated with the discourse of the participants.
 Power and access to discourse.
The constitution of orders of discourse and their component
discourse types brings an interest in the study of who has
access to them and who has the power to impose and enforce
constraints on access.
 There is a lot of constraints on access to various types of
speech and writing. Religious rituals, medical examination,
lessons, litigation are examples of discourse types that are
 Access to a high level of literacy is a precondition for a variety
of socially rewarded goods including well-paid jobs. However,
literacy is not equally distributed. There is constraint on access
and the exclusion of people from particular types of discourse,
who remain unfamiliar with the conventions.
 Constraints on access: formality
 Formality is best regarded as a property of social situations
which has effects upon the language forms used. It manifests
three types of constraints associated with the exercise of
 a- Constraints on contents: the discourse in formal situations
is subject to constraints on topic, relevance and fixed
interactive routines.
 b- Constraints on subjects: the social identities of those
qualified to occupy subject positions in the discourses of formal
situations are defined.
 c- Constraints on relations: formal situations are
characterized by an exceptional orientation to and making of
position, status, and “face”. Power and social distance are overt
and consequently there is a strong tendency towards
politeness. Politeness is based upon recognition of differences
of power and degrees of social distance. Moreover, consistency
of language forms is also a characteristic of formal situations
that influence the vocabulary that has to be selected from a
restricted set throughout.
 Recently, there has been a shift from the explicit making of
power relationship in a discourse towards a system based upon
solidarity rather than power (tu/vous) hiding power is a strategy
that is sometimes used for manipulative reasons.
 Conclusion
 Discourse is part of social practice and contributes to the
reproduction of social structures. If., therefore, there are
systematic constraints on the contents of discourse and on
the social relationships enacted in it and the social identities
enacting them, these can be expected to have long term effects
on the knowledge and beliefs social relationships and social
identities of the institutions and societies.
Social Relationships
Structural effects
Knowledge and Beliefs
Social Identities
Ch 4: Discourse, common sense and ideology
This section discusses the relationship of ideology to discourse.
 Conventions that are drawn upon in discourse embody
ideological assumptions that were naturalized to become
common sense. These have the function of sustaining existing
power relations.
 Harold Garfinkel (a sociologist) has argued that the world is
built upon assumptions and expectations which control both the
actions of members of a society and their interpretation of the
actions of others. Such assumptions and expectations are
implicit, back grounded and taken for granted.
 The effectiveness of ideology depends on a considerable
degree on it being merged with this common-sense background
to discourse and other forms of social interaction.
 Coherence of the discourse is dependent on discourse of
commonsense: between the sequential parts of a text and
between the parts of the text and the world.
 Common sense assumptions and expectations of the
interpreter are drawn from the members’ resources (MR). Texts
presuppose a view of the world that is common sense for some
people, but strikes others as odd.
 The producer of a text constructs the text as an interpretation of
the world. Formal features of the text are traces of that
interpretation. The traces constitute cues for the text interpreter,
who draws upon his assumptions and expectations
(MR/conventions). Thus text interpretation is the interpretation
of interpretation.
 Aspects of coherence: implicit assumptions chain together
successive parts of text through supplying explicit propositions
and inferencing.
 The operation of ideology is seen in terms of ways of
constructing texts which constantly and cumulatively “impose
assumptions: upon text interpreters and text producers,
typically without either being aware of it.
 Common sense and ideology: “Common sense” is
substantially, though not entirely, ideological common sense in
the service of sustaining unequal relations of power. Many
assumptions are taken for granted.
If one becomes aware that a particular aspect of common 
sense is sustaining power inequalities at one’s own expense, it
ceases to be
 commonsense, and may cease to have the capacity to sustain
power inequalities, i.e. to function ideologically. Ideologies are
brought to discourse not as explicit elements of the text, but as
the background assumptions which lead the text producer to
“textualize” the world in a particular way.
 Texts do not typically spout ideology. They so position the
interpreter through their cues that he brings ideologies to the
interpretation of the texts and reproduce them in the process.
 Diverse ideologies come from differences in position,
experience and interests between social groupings, which enter
into relationship with each other in terms of power. These
groupings may be social classes, women versus men,
groupings based on ethnicity.
 Groupings of a more “local” sort are associated with a particular
institution. For instance, in education, children, parents, and
teachers, and groupings within each of these (based upon age,
class, political allegiance, etc.) may in principle develop
different educational ideologies.
 Ideological struggle takes place in language. Language itself is
a stake in social struggle as well as a site of social struggle.
 Having the power to determine things like which word
meanings or which linguistic and communicative norms are
“legitimate” or “correct” or “appropriate” is an important aspect
of social and ideological power, and therefore a focus of
ideological struggle.
-Seeing existing language practices and orders of discourse as
reflecting the victories and defeats of past struggle, and as
stakes which are struggled over, is, along with the
complementary concept of “power behind discourse”, a major
characteristic of critical language study (CLS).
 In politics, each opposing party or political force tries to win
acceptance for its own discourse type as the preferred and
“natural” one for talking and writing about the state,
government, forms of political action and all aspects of polities,
as well as for demarcating politics itself from other domains.
 The primary domains in which social struggle takes place are
the social institutions and the situation types which each
institution recognizes.
 A dominated type may be in a relationship of opposition to a
dominant one. Michael Halliday calls one type of oppositional
discourse the anti-language. Anti-languages are set up and
used as conscious alternatives to the dominant or established
discourse types.
 Examples would be the language of the criminal underworld or
the non-standard social dialect of a minority. Another possibility
is for the dominated discourse type to be contained by a
dominant one.
 Naturalization and the generation of common sense: ideologies
come to be ideological common sense to the extent that the
discourse types which embody them become naturalized. This
depends on the power of the social groupings whose ideologies
and whose discourse types are at issue.
 The learning of a dominant discourse type comes to be seen as
a question of acquiring the necessary skills or techniques to
operate in the institution: the appearance in the discourse and
the essence.
 Ideology and meaning: we treat the meaning of a word and
other linguistic expressions) as a simple matter of fact. Because
of the considerable status accorded by common sense to the
dictionary, there is a tendency to generally underestimate the
extent of variation in meaning systems within a society.
 The dictionary is a product of the process of codification of
standard languages and thus closely tied to the notion that
words have fixed meanings. Meanings vary between social
dialects. They also vary ideologically.
 The meaning of a word is not an isolated and independent
thing. Words and other linguistic expressions enter into many
sorts of relationships – relationships of similarity, contrasts,
overlap and inclusion. The meaning of a single word depends
very much on the relationship of that word to others.
 Interactional routines are associated with different discourse
 Subjects and situations: the French philosopher Althusser
pointed to an important connection between common sense
assumptions about meaning and common sense assumptions
about social identity (or the subject), perceived as
‘commonsensically’ given, rather than socially produced.
 The socialization of people involves coming to be paced in a
range of subject positions. The social process of producing
social subjects can be conceived of in terms of the positioning
of people progressively over a period of years, in a range of
subject positions.
 Social subjects are, in Gramsci’s words “composite
personalities”. Foucault argues that the subject is dispersed
among the various subject positions: “discourse is not the
majestically (uncontested) unfolding of a thinking, knowing,
speaking subject, but, on the contrary, a totality, in which the
dispersion of the subject and his discontinuity with himself may
be determined.
 The naturalization of the meanings of words is an effective way
of constraining the contents of discourse, and in the long term,
knowledge and beliefs.
So, too, is the naturalization of situation
 types, which helps to consolidate particular images of
the social order. The naturalization of interactional
routines is an effective way of constraining the social
relations which are enacted in discourse, and of
constraining in the longer term a society’s system of
social relationships.
 The naturalization of subject positions constrain
subjects, and in the longer term, both contributes to
the socialization of persons and to the delimitation of
the “stock” of social identities in a given institution or
society. Naturalization then, is the most formidable
weapon in the armory of power, and also, a significant
focus of struggle.
Chapter 5: Critical Discourse Analysis Practice: Description
 In CDA textual samples contain features of vocabulary,
grammar, punctuation as well as discourse features of turntaking, types of speech acts and the directness and
indirectness of their expression.
 Close analysis of such features contribute to our understanding
of power relations and ideology in discourse.
 Text analysis is part of discourse analysis. Text, interaction and
social context contribute to three levels of corresponding CDA:
Description of text
 Interpretation of the relationship between text and interaction,
and explanation of the relationship between interaction and
social context.
 The set of formal features in a specific text can be regarded as
particular choices from among the options in vocabulary and
grammar. In order to interpret the features it is generally necessary
to take account of what other choices might have been made.
What experiential values do words have in terms of:
 Classification schemes in terms of which vocabulary is
organized in discourse types.
Ideological significance
 Metaphorical transfer of a word or expression from one domain
to another.
 Overworking shows preoccupation with some aspect of reality
which may indicate that it is a focus of ideological struggle.
 Hyponymy in meaning relations is the case where the
meaning of one word is included in the meaning of another
word, e.g. family and society.
 Synonymy is where words have the same meaning.
 Antonymy is where the meaning of one word is
incompatible with the meaning another, e.g. man
and woman.
What relational values do the words have?
 The text’s choice of wording depends on and help
create social relationships between participants, as
well as indicate features of the formality of the
 What expressive values do the words have in terms of
negative and positive evaluation?
 What metaphors are used in terms of representing
one aspect of experience in terms of another, and the
ideological significance of such representation?
 What experiential values do grammar features have?
 What types of processes and participants predominate?
 Is agency unclear?
 Are processes what they seem. i.e. processes of one type
appearing as processes of another type?
- Are nominalizations used?
- Is there absence of agents?
- Are sentences active or passive?
- Are sentences positive or negative?
 What relational values do grammatical features have?
 What modes (declarative, grammar questions, imperatives are
 Are direct personal pronouns (you, we) used? And how?
 What expressive values do grammar features have
 Declarative may have the expressive value of a request.
Grammar questions (wh-questions and yes/no questions)may have
the value of a request for information or a suggestion
 - Imperatives may have the value of a suggestion (try moving the
 Different Speech Acts may be grammatical in the three modes.
 - Are there important features of expressive modality?
Relational modality (writer’s authority) 
 Expressive modality (truth and probability in representing
 permission and obligation).
 - Use of pronouns of relational value
 (we/inclusive)
 (we/exclusive – writer’s reference)
 - How are sentences linked together
 What logical connectors are used (conjunctions)
 Are complex sentences characterized by coordination or
 What means are used to refer inside and outside the text
(nouns, articles)?
Textual Structures
 - What interactional conventions are used? (organizational
aspects of discourse).
 - Are there ways in which one participant is controlling the
 Interruptions, enforcing explicitness, controlling topic,
Chapter 6: Critical Discourse Analysis Practice:
Features of a text have experiential, relational, expressive and
connective value. These are related to the three aspects of
social practice which may be constrained by power (content,
relations and subjects) and their associated structural effects (on
knowledge and beliefs, social relationships and social identities).
 The relationship between text and social structures is an
indirect and mediated one. Mediated by the discourse which
the text is part of, because the values of textual features only
become real and socially operative when they are embedded in
social interaction, where texts are produced and interpreted
against a background of common-sense assumptions
(Members Resources MR).
 Discourse processes and their dependence on background
assumption are the concern of the second stage of the
procedure, interpretation.
 The relationship is mediated, secondly, by the social context of
the discourse, because the discourses in which these values
are embedded become real and socially operative as parts of
institutional and societal processes of struggle. The relationship
of discourses to processes of struggle and to power relations is
the concern of the third stage of the procedure, explanation.
 Formal features of a text are “cues” which activate elements of
interpreters’ assumptions. Many of these assumptions are
ideological there are six levels of interpretation:
 - Two relate to the interpretation of context:
1. situational context: features of the physical situation, properties
of the participants, representation of the societal and
institutional social orders.
2. Intertextual context: participants assumptions based on the
relation of the present discourse to previous discourses. This
aspect determines what can be taken, agreed upon or
disagreed with.
3. Surface utterances: the first level of text interpretation that
involves knowledge of the language (phonology, grammar and
4. Meaning of utterance: the second level of interpretation that
involves assigning meaning to the constituent parts of a text:
sentences, semantic propositions.
 The analyst combines word meanings and grammar information
and work to arrive at meanings for the whole proposition. They
also draw upon pragmatic conventions which allow them to
determine what speech acts an utterance is being used to
5.Local coherence: the third level of interpretation establishes
meaning connections between utterances, producing coherent
local interpretations of pairs and sequences of them.
6. Text structure and point: Interpretation of text structure at level
form is working out how a whole text hangs together, a text’s
overall (global) coherence. This involves matching the text with
one of a repertoire of schemata, or representation of
characteristic patterns of organization associated with different
types of discourse.
 Schema direct analyst to particular expected patterns or orders
in the discourse (greeting, establishing a conversational topic,
changing topics, closing off conversation, farewells).
 The point of a text is a summary interpretation of the text as a
whole. The experiential aspect of the point of a text is its overall
topic. (see also figure 6.1 page 119)
Speech Acts
 Speech acts are a central aspect of pragmatics which is
concerned with the meanings which participants in a discourse
ascribe to elements of a text.
 The pragmatic properties characterize what the producer is
doing: making a statement making a promise, threatening,
warning, asking a question, giving an order etc. The producer
can be simultaneously doing a number of things, and so single
element can have multiple speech act values.
 The conventions for speech acts which form part of a discourse
type embody ideological representations of subjects and their
social relationships, asymmetries of rights and obligations
between subjects, these may be embedded in asymmetrical
rights to ask questions, request action, complain, and
asymmetrical obligations.
Frames, scripts and schemata
 Schemata are part of (MR) constituting interpretive procedures
for the fourth level of text interpretation, mental representation
of aspects of the world. Whereas schemata represent modes of
social behaviour, frames represent entities that populate the
natural and social world. A frame is whatever representation of
a topic, a subject matter or referent within the activity. Related
aspects are implicit assumptions, coherence and inferencing.
 Scripts represent the subjects who are involved in these
activities and their relationships. They typify the ways in which
specific classes of subjects behave towards each other and
how they conduct relationships.
 There is overlap between all three categories because the three
terms identify three very broad dimensions of a highly complex
network of mental representation.
 Explanation
 The objective of the stage of explanation is to portray a
discourse as part of a social process, as a social practice.
 Explanation has two dimensions:
- processes of struggle
- processes of power relations
 As processes of social struggles, they are contextualized in
terms of the non-discourse struggles and the effects of these
struggles on structures.
 As processes revealing power relations, these discourses are
the outcome of struggles and are established by those in
Chapter 7: Creativity and Struggle in Discourse
 Text production develops the concept of the subject in
discourse, the subject as having paradoxically properties of
being socially determined and yet susceptible to individual
creativity. In the course of discussion we will be examining the
discourse of Thatcherism.
Producing Discourse
 Text production, social determination and creativity of the
subject involve the resolution of problems of various sorts in
their relationship to the world and to others: contents, relations
and subjects.
 The problem of the producer may be problematised as to content
where some discrepancy arises between the producer's commonsense (ideological) representation of the world, and the world itself
when the producer's representation come into contact with other
non-compatible representations. A familiar example is where a
newspaper tries to deal with some event which appears to conflict
with its normal way of representing that part of the world.
A producer's position may be problematised in terms of
relations in the sense of the social relations between producer
and interpreter (s) (addressee, audience). An example might be
an interaction where producer and addressee are of different
genders. Mixed-gender interaction is widely problematic these
days because of the increasingly contested relative social
positions of men and women.
 The position of a producer may be problematised in terms of
subjects either in terms of subject position or social identity of
the producer or in terms of subject position or social identity of
the interpreter(s). Example is the subject position of the teacher
when students are narrowing the gap between themselves and
their teachers in terms of attaining knowledge or qualifications.
The same is true in situations where a politician is trying to
maintain or create a commonality of ideology or allegiance
among audience.
 These three types of problems in the position of a
producer can be seen as a consequence of discourse
conventions becoming destabilized or de-structured. In
the destructuring of orders of discourse, relatively stable
relationship between discourse types and order of
discourse come to be interrupted. In other words,
producers experience problems because the familiar
ways of doing things are no longer straight forwardly
available. Producers had to be creative and put together
familiar discourse types in novel combinations.
 The formal features have experiential, relational and
expressive values. Producers are to successfully resolve
problems through restructuring and achieve
harmonization of values where the novel combinations of
discourse types come to be naturalized.
 Although the destructuring and restructuring of the orders of
discourse affect individuals and involve individual creativity,
their main determinants and effects lie outside the individual,
in the struggle between social groupings. What are
experienced as social problems can be interpreted socially
as indicators of the destructuring of orders of discourse
which occur in the course of social struggle. Discourse is a
stake as well as a site of social struggle. Individual attempts
to resolve problems can be interpreted as moves in social
struggle towards the restructuring of orders of discourse.
 The creativity flourishes in particular social circumstance,
when social struggles are constantly de-structuring orders of
discourse, and the creativity of the individual is socially
constitutive, in the sense that individual creative acts
cumulatively establish restructured orders of discourse. The
social and the individual, the determined and the creative are
facets of a dialectical process of social fixation and
Political Context of Thatcherism
 Britain has been affected for decades with a process of
relative decline as an industrial nation and as a world
power. In 1970, Britain suffered from a prolonged crisis
in its economy resulting in a general social crisis that
intensified industrial struggle, urban decay, crisis in
services, upsurge in racism and a widespread division
between social classes and genders.
 Conservative and Labour governments were both
ineffectual in dealing with this crisis. Thatcherism was a
radical response from the right to these problems and
political failures. Thatcherism rejected post-war
Conservatism and promised commitments to full
employment and the welfare state (leftist slogan).
 To be able to fulfill its pledges, Thatcherism had to generate
and promote new policies. The new mix between traditional
Conservative political elements: authoritarian commitment to
strengthening the state in defense, law and order, and
control over money supply and trade unions was combined
with neo-liberal policies of free market unconstrained by
state interference. All this had to be "sold" through discourse
to appeal to the ordinary citizen, through novel articulation to
promote the novel restructurings.
 In their struggle with political opponents both within their
own party as well as outside it, Thatcherites have
problematised and deconstructed the political discourse of
their opponents and attempted to impose their own
restructuring. Thatcherites have been faced also with the
problem of how to establish a subject position for a woman
political leader in a social context characterized by
institutionalized gender-differences (sexism).
 Articulatory problems included ''selling" the image of the
leader: the way she sounds and the way she projects her
image. Solutions were in the restructuring of the image
and the ideologies.
 The way she sounds was restructured, with the help of
professional tuition, to lower the pitch of her voice and
opt for deep quality. She also reduced the speed of her
speech to appear more like a statesperson. In terms of
political image she had to restructure a feminine image
that would also be behaving in a statesmanlike manner.
The restructuring included tough, resolute,
uncompromising and even aggressive political persona
that does not keep down from confrontation with political
 The new restructuring needed o be promoted in
discourse styles that cater for the content, relations and
subject position.
 The content needed to deconstruct ideologies and
reconstruct new ones that would be not only acceptable but
necessary and successful.
Relations Mrs Thatcher and the people:
 Discourse has to take account of the audience in terms of
structuring the message, as well as introducing creativity in
the interpretation of issues and ideologies. Mrs Thatcher
presents herself as the "ordinary person" with ordinary
concerns to establish solidarity with the audience.
Configuration of her discourse reflects a subject position for
the hearer that is constituted indirectly through the way in
which Mrs Thatcher represents the experience, beliefs and
aspirations of all the people (and therefore claiming their
voice as well as representation).
 Discourse shows different relational values associated
with the use of pronouns we (solidarity) and you. Textual
features of relational modality of obligation (the use of
must, have to, etc.) as well as expressive modality
(certainty, probability, categorical truths) express
toughness. There are also features when Mrs Thatcher
reformulates the focus of the question to introduce a new
aspect. Such textual features and discourse styles reflect
power in language and discourse strategies used by
people who control the discourse.
Subject position: the woman political leader
 The subject position of a woman political leader had to
appeal to both genders of the society. As a statesperson
who cannot assume absolute masculine characteristics,
there had to be restructuring of the characteristics of the
leader: toughness, a deep voice and an honest stylish
feminine appearance (groomed hair, professional suites).
Subject position: the people
 Any political leader needs to have a social base whom it
can claim to represent and can look to for support. Part of
what is involve in restructuring subject position for the
people who are the target of political discourse is to project
onto them a configuration of assumptions, beliefs and
values which accord with the novel mix of political
elements and constitute authoritarian populism. This is
done indirectly. Mrs Thatcher makes many claims in the
text about the people which by implication position the
audience as representative of the people, with Mrs
Thatcher as their speaker. Mrs Thatcher produces lists f
assertions, questions, noun phrases and cause-effect
clauses, all linked by coordination to give equal weight.
These are implicitly connected, with an invitation to the
audience to be part of the reconstruction through
interpreting the connections.
 Interpretation is conducted by the receivers of the discourse
type (audience). Through the process of interpretation
audience or receivers of the discourse become part of the
reconstruction and align themselves with the promoted
ideologies and positions.
 Solidarity with the public and the synthetic personalization
create a novel social identity that has been reconstructed
through discourse types and strategies.
 Discourse types and discourse strategies are characterized
by a relationship of containment between novel ideologies
and socially influential issues and determinants. This is
evident in the case study of Thatcherite discourse.
Chapter 8:
Discourse in Social Change:
 Discourse is regarded in Critical Language Studies (CLS) as
the reflection of social attitudes bringing about changes.
Attention to discourse dimensions brings an awareness of
the major social tendencies. A closer examination can
determine what part discourse has, in the inception,
development and consolidation of social change. Looking at
the relationship between certain social tendencies and
certain tendencies in orders of discourse can be very
informing to linguists.
 Jurgen Habermas claims that there are systems that work to
colonize people's lives. These can be economic; money and
power, the state and institutions. Colonization is done
through discourse. A societal order of discourse is a
particular structuring of constituent institutional orders of
 This structuring and desctructuring can be the site of
social struggle. Social tendencies are imposed by the
dominant bloc, through destructuring previous societal
orders of the discourse, and are resisted and contested
through discourse.
 We can think of these restructurings in terms of changes
in the salient relationships between discourse types
within the societal order of discourse. There are
discourse types of consumerism, e.g. discourse of
advertisement, and discourse types of bureaucracy e.g.
discourse of interviewing. Both discourse types are
called by Habermas strategic discourses, discourses
oriented to instrumental goals. Strategic discourse is
broadly contrasted with communicative discourse, which
is oriented to reaching an understanding between
 The impingements of the economy and the state upon
life have resulted in problems and crisis of social identity
for many people which have been experienced and dealt
with individually rather than through forms of social
struggle. Examples of aspects of social order in
discourse are: advertising and consumerism, discourse
technologies and bureaucracy and the discourse of
 Advertising and consumerism:
 There are three dimensions of the ideological work of
advertising discourse:
1. the relationship it constructs between the
producer/advertiser and the consumer
2. the way it builds an image of the product
3. the way it constructs subject positions for consumers.
 These dimensions constitute respectively the
constraining of relations, content and subjects.
 Consumerism involves a shift in ideological focus
from economic production to economic
consumption. Consumerism grew out of sets of
economic, technological and cultural conditions.
Consumerism is the product of mature capitalism when
productive capacity is such that an apparently endless
variety of commodities can be produced in apparently
unlimited quantities, and when the position of the
workforce in relation to leisure time and wages leave a
significant residue that activate consumerism.
Advertisement and the technological development of
film, TV and radio promote special products for
 On the other hand they absorb a high proportion of
leisure time. As for culture, capitalism, in the process of
industrialization and urbanization, has fractured
traditional cultural ties associated with the extended
family, the local community and religion, etc. In certain
circumstances, these traditional ties have been replaced
by ties generated by people in the workplace and urban
and industrial environments, i.e. ties of class. This leads
to changes in their discourse types and strategies.
 Advertising is of course the most visible practice
and discourse, of consumerism. People are exposed
to massive daily injections of advertising. The most
significant qualitative effect is the constitution of cultural
consumption communities.
 The British Code of Advertising Practice is directed at
controlling surface levels features of advertising which
relate to its nature as strategic and persuasive
communication oriented at selling things.
 Codes of practice ignore the socially ideological work for
advertising: advertising constructs consumption
communities through ideology. Advertisements create
beliefs in teenagers and the unaware public, and
therefore work on ideology:
 It works on building relations which facilitate the main
ideological work
 It builds images drawing upon ideological elements in
their MR in order to establish an image for the product
being advertised.
 It builds the consumer, construct subject positions for
consumers, as members of the consumption
 Verbal and Visual elements in Advertising
Visual image underline the reliance of the image building
process upon the audience: where visual images are
juxtaposed the interpreter (consumer) has to make the
connections. Visual images allow advertising to create
worlds which consumers may be led to inhibit.
Colonizing tendencies in advertising discourse
 Advertising is conceived of as a colonizer. The extent to
which people are exposed to advertising and the effect
of advertising on non-economic aspects of life through
media and television brings with it the ideologies of the
dominant class and brings about the restructuring of
family life by imposing specific types of behaviour and
promoting specific concepts of beauty, elegance, middle
class, to name but a few.
Discourse technologies and bureaucracy
 Discourse technologies are types of discourse which
involve the more or less self conscious application of
social scientific knowledge for purposes of bureaucratic
control. The effect of bureaucracy on orders of discourse
is via the colonizing spread of discourse technologies,
e.g. skills training, interview.
 According to the sociologist Max Weber, a bureaucracy
is a 'hierarchical organization designed rationally to
coordinate the work of many individuals in the pursuit of
large scale administrative tasks and organizational
Discourse technologies
 Discourse technologies fall within the more general
category of strategic discourse, discourse oriented to
instrumental goals and results. These are based upon
knowledge about discourse itself. This involves the
interpretation of power and knowledge.
Social skills training
 Larger units of practice, and discourse, such as an
interview, are assumed to be composed of sequences of
smaller units which are produced through the application
of skills which are selected on the basis of their
contribution to the achievement of goals. This involves
the manipulation of relational and subjective dimensions
of discourse for instrumental reasons. Articulation
becomes a discourse technology that includes different
institutional orders of discourse.
Public information and official forms
 The transmission of information to the public by
bureaucratic organizations, and the solicitation of
information from members of the public through official
forms, is discourse technologies that have specific
format and layout, specific syntax and technical
 Manipulation of relations and subjects through synthetic
personalization, involve simplifying of aspects of the
contents of the text.
 The two sides of the impingement of the system on
people's lives, the economic/consumerist and the
bureaucratic/discourse technological increasingly
overlap. The powerful consumer subject position
constructed in advertising can be made use of for
bureaucratic purposes.
 A common dimension of synthetic personalization is
simulated equalization. Direct address of the reader, use of
questions instead of imperatives are also strategies to put
the producer on equal footing with the reader through
selected expressions in language.
 Synthetic personalization may strengthen the position of
the bureaucracy and the state by disguising its
instrumental and manipulative relationship to the mass of
the people beneath a façade of a personal and equal
The discourse of therapy
 Further examples of discourse technologies that are not
in a direct relationship with bureaucratic rationality are
therapeutic technologies, as opposed to disciplinary
technologies. These can also be ideological practices.
Counselling is a person-to-person form of communication
marked by the development of a subtle emotional
understanding often described technically as rapport or
empathy that is centred upon the problems of the client
and is free from authoritarian judgmental or coercive
pressures. However the counselor does not only do the
listening. He or she offers interpretations that may
involve ideological reformulations that may suggest a
new mechanism for achieving and legitimizing social
order. Assumptions colonize orders of discourse.
 In accounting for what is going on in terms of discourse
and socially there are indications of increased
fragmentation rather than increased integration.
Integrating tendencies are manifested in colonizing
integrations in the societal orders of the discourse.
However, tendencies to fragmentation are manifested in
a proliferation of types of discourse.
 Ch.9: critical language study and social
 One of the aims of Critical language study (CLS) is to
contribute, through raising awareness, to the
emancipation of those who are dominated and
oppressed in society. One potential domain where social
emancipation could be developed is language education
in the school.
 Critical language awareness, based on CLS should be a
significant objective in language education, given the
major changes in educational policy and practice which
are being implemented or planned. Critical discourse
analysis helps to increase consciousness of how
language contributes to the domination of some people
by others, because consciousness is the first step
towards emancipation.
 Domination in modern society works through
“consent” rather than “coercion”, through ideology
and through language.
 Social emancipation is primarily about tangible
matters such as unemployment, housing, equality of
access to education, the distribution of wealth.
 Critical language studies or any critical social analysis
distinguish objective and subjective conditions. The
main objective condition is: the wider social situation
must be such as to make progress towards social
emancipation feasible. Subjective conditions involve
raising the consciousness of dominated groupings of
 There are many social context in our society where CLS
might play a part in struggles for social emancipation.
Some of these are educational (schools, colleges, on –
the – job training, etc.)
 One context involving professional teachers is the
teaching of English as a Second Language (ESL).
Teachers of ESL, (in Britain) deal with some of the most
disadvantaged sections of the society, whose experience
of racism is particularly sharp. Some of these teachers
already see their role in terms of empowering their
students, to deal with communicative situations
outside the classroom in which institutional power is
weighted against them, preparing them to challenge,
contradict, and assert themselves, in settings where
the power dynamic would expect them to agree,
acquiesce, or be silent.
 The educational process must be grounded in a dialogue
about the meaning of power and its encoding in
 The training of workers in public service implicitly involve
enormous pressure to adapt their practices in order to meet
the purely instrumental criteria of bureaucratic rationality,
such as “ efficiency” and “cost- effectiveness”: fewer
workers are expected to handle more people. In the media,
discourse usually runs to protect the interests of the
dominant class.
 The Minister of Education in Britain Mr. Kenneth Baker in a
speech in January 1987 underlines the importance of critical
language awareness approach: “Pupils need to know about
the workings of the English Language if they are to use it
effectively. Most schools no longer teach old – fashioned
grammar. But little has been put in its place. There is no
common ground on teaching about the structure and
workings of the language, about the way it is used to
convey meaning and achieve other effects, we need to equip
teachers with a proper model of the language to help
improve their teaching”.
 A model of the English Language, whether spoken or
written, which would:
 - Serve as the basis of how teacher are trained to
understand now the English Language works.
 - Inform professional discussion of all aspects of English
 The principles which would guide teachers on how far
and in what ways the model should be made explicit to
pupils, to make them conscious of how language is
used in a range of context.
 what pupils need to know about how the English
Language works and in consequence what they should
have been taught and be expected to understand on this
score at age 7, 11 and 16.
 The characterization of discourse provides an
appropriate model of language for language education,
its main elements being text, interaction and context.
Two points need to be emphasized:
 - Discourse is not just a matter of text, or of
language form. It should have something to say about
interaction or context.
 - In relation to context, discourse is determined by
social relations, and it contributes to shaping social
 The instrumental views of language education are
training-oriented, focusing on the transmission of
knowledge and skills, whose content is assumed to be
unproblematic and whose social origins are ignored.
An example is the concept of literary education, where
the transmission of dominant cultural values is passed
from one generation to the other.
 Education, by contrast, is not just passing things on, it is
developing the learner's critical consciousness about
their environment and critical self-consciousness, and
their capacity to contribute into the shaping and
reshaping of the social world. Learners ought to have
access to an explicit model of language. This requires
"meta language", a language to discuss language,
and to talk about texts and interactions and social
 Empowerment has a substantial "stock" potential, and
can help people overcome their feeling of powerlessness
by showing them that existing orders of discourse are
not immutable.
 The transformation of orders of discourse is a matter
of the systematic de-structuring of existing orders and
restructuring of new orders.
Chapter 10 : Language and power 2000
 We need to look at social relations, structures and
processes on an international scale if we are to
understand and contest the naturalized social orders
reflecting the increasing gap between the dominant and
the dominated, the rich and poor, inequality And social
exclusion, racism, the double exploitation of women
as both workers and women.
 This means that when the focus of analysis is national or
local, it is important to recognize that the national and
locals are set within an international frame which shapes
 Language is doubly involved in the struggle to impose
the neo-liberal. The new ways of being and acting
entailed are partly new ways of using language.
Dr. Veena Vijaya
E-mail: [email protected]
Thank You