Discourse analysis presentation - Nov 21 - SERLPresentation Transcript
Discourse Analysis: Theory, Methodology and Examples SERL SEMINARLEEDS METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY NOVEMBER 21 2012 PAULINE WHELAN email@example.com http://www.wphe.org
Overview Background to Discourse Analysis >57 Kinds of Discourse Analysis (Burman, in 1993), but I‟m only going to talk about: (Elements of) Critical Discourse Analysis Discourse Analysis as it has emerged in (Critical Kinds of Social) Psychology Theoretical and Epistemological Issues What do we mean by „discourse‟? What theoretical frameworks do we draw on? What epistemological assumptions do we make? Methodology and Method Steps for analysis? Worked Examples Discussion
Epistemology Most approaches to Discourse Analysis are social constructionist approaches and engage (some degree of) relativism An exploration of language does not provide direct access to The Truth, but offers us a way to explore how meaning is negotiated through discourse We are interested in the kinds of social realities produced in and through discourse Language is intimately related to power relations and one of the ways to challenge unequal power relations is to identify how these relations are persisted in and through language use
Background to (Critical) Discourse Analysis Critical Discourse Analysis: 1970s, critical linguistics, systemic functional and social-semiotic linguistics, British cultural studies Fairclough‟s „Language and Power‟ (1989) as seminal text; van Dijk‟s Handbook of Discourse Analysis (1985) Fairclough, Wodak, van Dijk as keys theorists Power as central theme Social Theory – Foucault, Gramsci, Althusser, Habermas (bringing theory into analysis) Systemic-functional linguistics, mainstream pragmatics, discourse analysis, text linguistics, social semiotics, social cognition… Used across multiple disciplines: sociology, psychology, cultural studies, anthropology… Key journals: Discourse & Society, Critical Discourse Studies, Journal of Language and Politics
Background to Discourse Analysis in Psychology Emerged out of the „turn to language‟ (the „epistemological crisis‟) in psychology in the 1970s; as a direct challenge to empiricism Attempt to expose the assumptions underlying psychological theory; to turn the gaze of the discipline back onto itself DA in psychology emerged in two relatively distinct flavours:1. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (Parker, 1992; Burman & Parker, 1993)2. Discursive Psychology (Wetherell 1987; Wetherell & Potter, 1992) Conversation analytic approaches – e.g. Feminist Conversation Analysis (for debate see Whelan, Speer, Griffin & Weatherall in Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2012) Blended approaches (e.g. Holt, 2011)
(Critical) Discourse Analysis - Key Assumptions Language is a social phenomenon Language provides a way for individuals, institutions and social groups to express meaning and values and how this happens is systematic Texts are units of language Receivers of texts are not passive but actively engage in interpreting texts There is overlap across various genres of language (Kress, 1989) Language is intimately connected to issues of power, “or more precisely about connections between language use and unequal relations of power” (Fairclough, 1989) Language reflects and constitutes relations of power
Critical, Discourse and Analysis „Critical‟ – draws on critical social theory of various and conflicting flavours: post-structuralism, Marxist, feminist… Conflicting definitions of „Discourse‟ – e.g. spoken and written texts vs Foucauldian conceptions of „discursive practices‟ Analysis – Foucauldian approaches (Fairclough, 1989, Parker & Burman, 1993); Discursive Psychology (Edwards & Potter, 1992); Socio-Cognitive approaches (van Dijk, 2008); Discourse Historical Approach (Riesigl & Wodak, 2001) 10 step procedures (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997) 3 stage models (Fairclough, 1989) 20 steps (Parker, 1992)
Fairclough – Discourse Discourse as text Formal properties, linguistic features of the text Discourse as discursive practice Discourse as (re)produced, distributed, circulated Speech acts, coherence, contradictions Discourse as social practice Ideological effects Explorations of power and resistance
Parker - Discourse Seven Characteristics (Parker, 1992)1. A discourse is realised in texts2. A discourse is about objects3. A discourse contains subjects4. A discourse is a coherent system of meanings5. A discourse refers to other discourses6. A discourse reflects on its own way of speaking7. A discourse is historically located And a further three8. Discourses support institutions9. Discourses reproduce power relations10. Discourses have ideological effects
Principles of „Discourse‟ in CDA?• CDA addresses social problems• Power relations are discursive• Discourse constitutes society and culture• Discourse does ideological work• Discourse is historical• The link between text and society is mediated• Discourse analysis is interpretive and explanatory• Discourse is a form of social action Fairclough and Wodak (1997: 271-80)
Fairclough – 3 Stage Approach; First Stage Description: identifying formal properties of the text Vocabulary Contested words Metaphors Grammar Agency Pronouns Textual Structures Interactional conventions Turn-taking control Experiential/Relational/Expressive/Connective Values Formal/informal Euphemisms (Fairclough, 1989)
Fairclough– 3 Stage Approach; Second Stage Interpretation: relationship between the text and the interaction Context (Situational, Intertextual) Discourse Types (Contents, Subjects, Relations, Connections) Difference and Change (Context and discourse types different for different participants or different over time?) (Fairclough, 1989)
Fairclough – 3 Stage Approach; Third Stage Explanation: relationship between the interaction and social context Social determinants (shaped by situational, institutional and societal relationships/power relations) Ideologies (what ideologies are acknowledged/contested in the discourse?) Social Effects (perpetuates or challenges existing power relations? Normative/transgressive discourses?) (Fairclough, 1989)
20 Steps for DA (1-7) – Parker 19921. Treating our objects of study as texts which are described, put into words2. Exploring connotations through some sort of free association, which is best done with other people.3. Asking what objects are referred to, and describing them4. Talking about the talk as if it were an object, a discourse.5. Specifying what types of person are talked about in this discourse, some of which may already have been identified as objects6. Speculating about what they can say in the discourse, what you could say if you identified with them (what rights to speak in that way of speaking).7. Mapping a picture of the world this discourse presents
20 Steps (8-13)8. Working out how a text using this discourse would deal with objections to the terminology9. Setting contrasting ways of speaking, discourses, against each other and looking at the different objects they constitute10. Identifying points where they overlap, where they constitute what look like the „same‟ objects in different ways11. Referring to other texts to elaborate the discourse as it occurs, perhaps implicitly, and addresses different audiences12. Reflecting on the term used to describe the discourse, a matter which involves moral/political choices on the part of the analyst13. Looking at how and where the discourses emerged
20 Steps (14-20)14. Describing how they have changed, and told a story, usually about how they refer to things which were always there to be discovered.15. Identifying institutions which are reinforced when this or that discourse is used;16. Identifying institutions that are attacked or subverted when this or that discourse appears.17. Looking at which categories of person gain and lose from the employment of the discourse18. Looking at who would want to promote and who would want to dissolve the discourse.19. Showing how a discourse connects with other discourses which sanction oppression20. Showing how the discourses allow dominant groups to tell their narratives about the past in order to justify the present, and prevent those who use subjugated discourses from making history.
Discursive Psychology Key Text: Potter & Wetherell‟s Discourse and Social Psychology (1997) Two Key Elements:1. Rhetorical Devices: linguistic resources2. Interpretive Repertoires: wider cultural and explanatory frameworks used with some recognition/reflexivity around the local and situated nature of discourses in particular interactions
Discursive Psychology – Rhetorical Devices Disclaimers: „I‟m not being racist but…‟ -> anticipates and rejects potential negative descriptions (Smith, 1978) Use of passive language: „I found myself..‟ -> precludes possibility of agency and choice (Abell et all, 2000) Vague descriptions Vivid details can easily be undermined: vague descriptions produce just enough material to sustain action without opening to attack (Potter, 1996) Extreme case formulation It was „phenomenal‟ -> strengthens claims by taking claims evaluations to extremes (Pomerantz, 1986) Holt (2011)
Problems of Discursive Psychology “Discursive psychology declares that nothing is outside the text and refuses to study power. One of the ways hard-line self-enclosed „discourse analysis‟ fits neatly into psychology is in its methodological assumptions about observation and description. British psychology – the heartland of discourse analysis – has been guided by „empiricism‟ in which only that which can be recorded by the scientist is worth taking seriously.” (Parker, 2007) “the battle to show that it is a legitimate part of the discipline rather than a critique has led discursive psychology to resort to its own quasi-scientific jargon” (Parker, 2007, p.138) “the analysis of discourse is reduced to a game of spotting different rhetorical devices” (Parker, 2007, p.138)
My Approach to Discourse Analysis Blends approaches of Fairclough (CDA), Parker & Burman (Foucauldian Discourse Analysis) and insights provided by Hook on Foucault‟s conception of Discourse Analysis Fairclough: most sophisticated analytic account of textual and linguistic features Parker & Burman: clearest way to explore power and resistance in discourses, exposing underlying assumptions and „regimes of truth‟ Hook: attention to context and materiality “[Foucault] demands that one does not reduce the analysis of discourse merely to the markings of a textuality, but that one fixes it also in the physicality of its effects, in the materiality of its practices (1981a, p. 66). As such, critical readings, like interpretative exercises, will be insufficient, they will allow one to deny the materiality of discourse, to elide much of its force, and will hence result in the crippling of the political impact of our analyses.” (Hook, 2001) Epistemological complementarity between the Foucauldian approaches adopted by Fairclough, Parker & Burman and Hook
Discussion QuestionWhat are the problems/limitations of discourse analysis?
Problems/Limitations of Discourse Analysis Method problems: labour-intensive, no clear „method‟ Contested definitions: „rigor‟, „generalisability‟, „reliability‟, „validity‟ Discourses as „discrete phenomena‟ or due to context? The analyst‟s imposition of meaning; academic imperialism Focus on grammatical constructions at the expensive of social political implications („seduction with the data‟) Terminology (what is „discourse‟, „text‟, „subjectivity‟…),
Problems/Limitations – Part 2 Neglect of „materiality‟ (Hook, 2001) DA can masquerade as a value-free method Neglects issues of reflexivity Relativism Space for resistance? (See Burman & Parker, 1993) Sits within broader „problems‟ of qualitative research (See Burman & Whelan, 2011)
Discourse Analysis of Widening Participation Strategic Assessments 2009 WPSAs of 20 HEIs:1. How do the classification schemes enacted to categorise the WP target groups create and perpetuate visibilities and invisibilities in widening participation policy and practice?2. In terms of recruitment, selection and admissions processes described, what subject positions are created for WP students?3. How do the discursive constructions of the „desirable student‟ across institutions relate to the stratification of the English higher education sector?
Analytical Steps1. Gather „data‟2. Read and re-read, analysing according to Fairclough‟s First Stage3. Read theoretical and related documentation (sociological accounts of WP/HE, historical policy documents, context documents); looks for clues for intertextual analysis to inform interpretations4. „Code‟ the „data‟, while keeping in mind deconstructionist accounts of „coding‟ and „data‟ (St. Pierre, 2012) – Atlas.ti, NVivo, Excel5. Develop argument for relationship between coded data, theory, history and materiality6. Present to other people7. Repeat 2,3,4,5,6!8. Realise there is no „complete‟ analysis and try to articulate the limitations.
Discursive (In/)Coherence Dominant discourse of targeting „under-represented groups‟: Headline position in the WPSA documents „To support students from under-represented groups who have the potential to benefit from a research-led higher education at the University‟ (Elite-3) „..will continue to enhance participation from under-represented groups in higher education‟ (New-5) Discursive genre of official reporting documentation – signals compliance with national policy: Targeting „groups in the population who are under-represented in higher education‟ (Dearing, 1997) „students from disadvantaged backgrounds currently underrepresented in higher education‟ (HEFCE, 2012)
Discursive (In/)Coherence Widespread failure to specify which particular groups are „under-represented‟ The discourse ruptures at the point of contextualising nationally „under-represented groups‟ within the local university population „the University has decided to focus its target in relation to widening participation on the proportion of students admitted from lower socio-economic groups‟ But practical milestones for the next 3 years are expressed in terms of „identifying those applicants and students who may be at risk of less success in the admissions processes‟
Discursive effects? Signals but tokenizes compliance with national policy Fails to explicitly challenge dominant policy discourses (within the genre of official reporting documentation) Highlights the confused nature of national policy but presents no significant challenge to it Pervasive confusion around the target groups of WP Closer attention needed to how the sector is stratified in terms of differential participation rates of students at different universities
Student Subject Positions (1) WP Target Groups for University-8: “Those without a family background of higher education who lack information about the opportunities available to them and ways to access university study.” “Those who could benefit from higher education study but lack aspiration and/or support, in particular those from low participation neighbourhoods and social class IV-VII” “Poorer students, and their parents and teachers, who aspire to higher education but are unaware of the financial support mechanisms available.” Question: What subject positions are created for WP students?
Student Subject Positions (2) Deficit accounts of WP students Lack of awareness and/or aspirations and/or are mystified by higher education Lack of agency for WP target groups Historically, „deficit‟ accounts of students abound in accounts in WP (evident since the early critiques of the Dearing Report)
Institutional Subject Positions (1) WP activities (Elite-5): “For Years 7-11, we provide HE awareness and subject specific aspiration raising…” “For Adults, we provide HE awareness and aspiration raising…” “For Parents, we provide sessions to demystify higher education…” Question: What kind of institutional subject positions are created?
Institutional Subject Positions (2) Power and agency located with the institutions; students not awarded power to decide or shape the provisions offered Employ a straightforward transmission model of activities: activities are not mutually constituted or decided upon by institutions and students but „delivered‟ to the WP target groups WP target groups assumed to be the passive and grateful recipients of institutional activities The discourse strips the target groups of any agency in challenging or addressing the deficiencies that the university reports them to have
Institutional Subject Positions (3) Broader neoliberal conceptions of individual students Delivery/training models require little structural change on the part of the institution Diverts attention from systemic structural issues of HE provision and the transformative goals of WP
Using DA to unpack embedded assumptions Dominant Discourses of Admissions What can these tell us about subject positions constituted for WP students? How do the discursive constructions of the „desirable WP student‟ vary across institutions‟?
Dominant Discourses of WP Recruitment/Admissions1. Required Individual Ability + Required Individual Potential => Desirable WP Student• “We will recruit our students solely on the basis of their ability and potential to succeed within the learning environment that we offer”• “We must therefore continue our broad-based admissions policies, selecting on merit alone, but always with a view to the potential for achievement”2. Required Individual Potential => Desirable WP Student• “attract and retain students, from a wide and diverse community, who have the potential to succeed and benefit from the experience”• “it remains committed to providing opportunities for those from historically excluded sectors of the population who have the potential to succeed in higher education”
Academic Ability in Admissions Discourse Present only at Elite/Selecting/More Prestigious Institutions (Selecting by ability uncontested and inevitable as a means to distribute limited places) Academic ability is assessable (by HEIs) Hierarchized and unevenly distributed among students Individualized Predictive of future performance One exception: Gifted and Talented Discourse present across all 20 WPSAs (78% of HEIs listed Gifted & Talented students as a target category, the third most frequently invoked category; Action on Access, 2009)
Ability Discourse at „Leading Institutions‟ Exclusively appealing to the highly „able‟ and „talented‟: “helping to ensure that [Russell Group University] is accessible and attractive to all talented students, irrespective of background” “attract and retain academically gifted and highly motivated students from a wide range of backgrounds, creating a diverse and international University community” Ability Discourse intersects with Discourses of Institutional Status “to attract the very best learners from around the UK and the rest of the world and offer them a world-class education.” (Russell Group University) ”To continue to attract and develop the most able students and staff worldwide” (Russell Group University)
Dominant Discourses and Institutional Positioning Academic ability bound to widening participation discourse across „elite‟ institutions (Russell Group, 1994 Group) Market pressures to be perceived as a „high quality‟ institution enacted in discourses of heightened ability attributes - „most able‟, „brightest and best‟ students - which are seen as necessary characteristics of leading institutions “Aims to attract and recruit those students with the highest academic ability” Absence (and in some cases explicit rejection) of „ability‟ discourses at Post 92 universities: o “For this university, widening participation was not just a process of „talent spotting‟ ” (Post 92, WPSA, 2009)
„Potential‟ Discourse Fails to recognise that „potential‟ (like academic ability) cannot be impartially assessed Constructions of potential can involve highly classed, racialised and gendered processes (see e.g. Burke & McManus) „Potential to succeed‟ perhaps better evaluated as a programme outcome than a determinant for entry Indvidualised notion of potential - potential split from socio-cultural production “[The University] consistently evaluates the potential of each applicant individually and on their own merits.”
Potential Discourse (2) Meritocratic rhetoric of judicious and fair admissions: „evaluating...each applicant…on their own merits‟ disguises very un-meritocratic practices (selective, inequitable, unfair approaches to WP) Ignores how HEIs are themselves implicated in the nurturing, supporting and developing of „potential‟ in their students to „succeed in higher education‟ Individualist discourse of WP: individual students are tasked with possessing required levels of „potential‟; the self-reliant, isolated, neoliberal „self‟ Fixity of the notion of „potential‟ Exacerbates and perpetuates stratification of students across institutional, as well as institutional stratification across the sector
Discourses of Legitimacy Discourses of Missed Performance Targets Language of justification for missing „targets‟ indicates how PIs intersect heavily with discourses of status e.g.: “According to the latest performance indicators (2005/06 data), 75.9% of the University‟s young full-time first degree entrants came from state school backgrounds. Uni B‟s benchmark for their admission was 78.4%. This figure is higher than the benchmark applied to almost all of the research intensive, highly academically selective institutions with which the University would normally compare itself. Uni B is therefore proving more attractive to state sector students than many of its peer institutions.” (Access Agreement, 2009, Uni B)
Conclusion Many different kinds of Discourse Analysis and conceptions of „discourse‟, „critical‟ and „analysis‟ Commonalities across DA: Discourse as social practice Power and resistance are key Exposing embedded assumptions and underlying ideologies Analysing how social realities are produced through discourse, as a way to challenge normative assumptions Differences: Attention awarded to linguistic features of the text Level of „reflexivity‟ afforded to the analyst and the analytical framework …and many more! The Goal of DA: “the activity of investigation is simultaneously an activity which challenges the everyday world and changes it.” (Parker, 2007)