Discourse Analysis for Social Research


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Slides accompanying lecture given to students of MA in Development Studies at UEA.

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  • Discourse Analysis for Social Research

    1. 1. Discourse Analysis for Social Research Dominik Luke š http://dominiklukes.net http://cadaad.org Research Skills for Social Analysis, MA Dev 9 Feb 2009, UEA
    2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Discourse: definitions, modalities, codes </li></ul><ul><li>Aims of discourse analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Approaches to discourse analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Tools for discourse analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of text analysis and critical discourse analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of frame analysis </li></ul>
    3. 3. Overview The Discourse Analysis session will look at the different ways in which analysing the discourse surrounding a particular issue can underscore both conscious and unconscious agendas and assumptions of the discourse participants . The key question to consider will be whether and how the structure of discourse itself can influence actions such policy decisions . We will compare how this issue has been handled by approaches steeped in linguistics such as Critical Discourse Analysis and those with a background in ethnography such as the variety of approaches dealing with framing . As part of this comparison we will look at discourse as a social, psychological and textual phenomenon involved in the creation of public and private meanings . We will finally critically examine the utility of discourse analysis as a tool for social research .
    4. 4. Sample questions <ul><li>What can we expect from ‘discourse analysis’? </li></ul><ul><li>How is saying: “We have analysed this discourse and come to the following conclusions” different from “I read this text and this is what I think of it”? </li></ul><ul><li>What if anything is hidden behind normal phrases like “access to literacy”? </li></ul><ul><li>If I declare a ‘war on poverty’, do I have to use guns to give people food? </li></ul>
    5. 5. Definitions of discourse <ul><li>discourse = a conversation or text </li></ul><ul><li>discourse = collection of texts or conversations </li></ul><ul><li>discourse = a shared way of talking or creating texts (code) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(the top depends on the bottom) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>discours es = codes, languages, ways of speaking of a topic </li></ul>A discourse is &quot;a language or system of representation that has developed socially in order to make and circulate a coherent set of meanings about an important topic area.&quot; John Fiske (1987). Television Culture . New York: Methuen.
    6. 6. Discourse Modalities <ul><li>Spoken word </li></ul><ul><li>Written word </li></ul><ul><li>Paralinguistic features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intonation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gestures, facial expressions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Images, signs, drawings </li></ul><ul><li>Text organisation, layout, font type </li></ul>
    7. 7. Discourse Codes: What is expressed through discourse <ul><li>Propositional meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Figurative meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Argumentative strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Presuppositions and expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Individual and group identity </li></ul><ul><li>Social and political structures </li></ul><ul><li>Power and prestige relations </li></ul>
    8. 8. Aims of Discourse Analysis <ul><li>“… analysing texts involves much more than attending to whatever is 'in' those texts. … The point … is not to get the text to lay bare its meanings (or its prejudices), but to trace some of the threads that connect that text to others.&quot; (MacLure, 2003: 43) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Guess the small print
    10. 10. Ta da… “ Before you know it, these kids will be doctors, nurses and medical technicians , possibly yours. They'll need an excellent grasp of laser technology, advanced computing and molecular genetics. Unfortunately, very few American children are being prepared to master such sophisticated subjects . If we want children who can handle tomorrow's good jobs , more kids need to take more challenging academic courses . To find out how you can help the effort to raise standards in America's schools , please call 1-800-96- PROMISE. If we make changes now, we can prevent a lot of pain later on.” From Turner and Fauconnier, 2003, The Way We Think
    11. 11. Discourse analysis schools and approaches <ul><li>Ethnography/Frame Analysis (Turner, Goffman, Schon, Tannen, Lakoff) strives for engaged objectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Postmodernist/Critical Discourse Analysis (Foucault, Fish, Fairclough, Wodak, van Dijk) embraces involvement and bias </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistic Analysis (text linguistics, corpus linguistics, conversation analysis, applied linguistics) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Frame v Critical Discourse Analysis Schon and Rein: “We see policy positions as resting on underlying structures of belief, perception, and appreciation , which we call “ frames .” We see policy controversies as disputes in which the contending parties hold conflicting frames. Such disputes are resistant to resolution by appeal to facts or reasoned argumentation because the parties’ conflicting frames determine what counts as a fact and what arguments are taken to be relevant and compelling. Moreover, the frames that shape policy positions and underlie controversy are usually tacit, which means that they are exempt from conscious attention and reasoning .” Van Dijk: “in our opinion CDA should deal primarily with the discourse dimensions of power abuse and the injustice and inequality that result from it .”
    13. 13. On method and discourse analysis <ul><li>10 stages of analyzing discourse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. research questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. sample selection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. collection of records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4. interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5. transcription </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6. coding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>7. analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>8. validation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- coherence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- participants' observations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- new problems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- fruitfulness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>9. report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>10. application </li></ul></ul><ul><li>&quot; Analysis of discourse is like riding a bicycle compared to conducting experiments or analysing survey data which resemble baking cakes from a recipe. There is no obvious parallel to well-controlled experimental design and test of statistical significance.“ … </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;it is not a case of stating first you do this and then you do that. The skills required are developed as one tries to make sense of transcripts and identify the organizational features of documents.“…(p. 169) </li></ul><ul><li>from Potter and Wetherell (1988) Discourse and Social Psychology </li></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><li>“ The understanding and interpretation of texts is not merely a concern of science, but is obviously part of the total human experience of the world .” (p. xi) [Gadamer, H. G. (1975). Truth and method. London, Sheed and Ward.] </li></ul><ul><li>“ Linguists merely employ systematically a cognitive faculty that is already in place for everyday linguistics functioning.” [Leonard Talmy, 2007, Lecture notes for ICLC, Krakow] </li></ul>
    15. 15. Taking it beyond the bicycle <ul><li>Discover patterns using corpus, collocations, KWIC, word frequencies, semantic prosody </li></ul><ul><ul><li>use general-purpose corpus (BNC, Webcorp.org.uk) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>compile own corpus (Wordsmith) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quantify themes through text annotation (NVIVO) </li></ul><ul><li>Chart connections within the text and outside the text including testing readers </li></ul><ul><li>Provide evidence for underlying images and stories necessary for the understanding of the text </li></ul>
    16. 16. KWIC from Webcorp.org.uk
    17. 17. NVIVO
    18. 18. Testing the techniques <ul><li>Comparing inaugural speeches with Wordle.net: Obama 2009, Bush 2005, Clinton 1997, Reagan 1981? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we guess from word clusters whose speech is which? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can we conclude from word frequencies about the themes in the speeches? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can we conclude about the influence of the historical context? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are there other features of the text that can tell us something important? </li></ul>
    19. 19. Obama/Bush/Clinton/Reagan? Obama 2009 Reagan 1981 Bush 2005 Clinton 1997
    20. 20. Beyond the words: Text structure And if you look at the text – spread out like a patient etherized upon a table – that’s exactly what it’s like. There are few transitions and those there are – “for,” “nor,” “as for,” “so,” “and so” – seem just stuck in, providing a pause, not a marker of logical progression . Obama doesn’t deposit us at a location he has in mind from the beginning; he carries us from meditative bead to meditative bead, and invites us to contemplate. Stanley Fish, Barack Obama’s Prose Style, NYT Blogs http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/barack-obamas-prose-style/
    21. 21. The response Let's look a little more closely into the issue of counting sentential connectives. George W. Bush's 2005 inaugural contains 100 sentences, by my count, and 10 of them begin with &quot;connectives that point backward or forward&quot;. In comparison, Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural contains 108 sentences, 14 of which involve sentence-initial connectives. I interpret this to mean that both addresses are written in a style that avoids explicit indications of discourse structure — but Obama's address doesn't have this property to any unusual extent . … My conclusion: under deadline pressure, Prof. Fish reached in his bag of analytical concepts and pulled one out, more or less at random, that expresses something about his response, but has little or no specific connection to Obama's text . … I sympathize, but it seems to me that the analysis of Barack Obama's text as particularly paratactic is still, in the philosophical sense of the term, bullshit . Mark Lieberman, Language Log, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1058
    22. 22. Beyond the surface of text: Frame Analysis <ul><li>All knowledge is organized in structured conceptual frames providing a foundation for making sense of the world </li></ul><ul><li>Frames are structured by 4 principles (Lakoff, 1987): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Propositional structures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Image schematic structures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Metaphorical mappings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Metonymic mappings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Frame structure examples </li></ul><ul><li>Image schemas </li></ul><ul><li>Images </li></ul><ul><li>Scripts, scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>Folk theories, stories </li></ul><ul><li>Salient examples, paragons </li></ul><ul><li>Roles and relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Categories and hierarchies </li></ul>
    23. 23. Frame as a bridging concept <ul><li>Artificial Inteligence (Minsky, Schank) </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Psychology (Rumelhart, Ableson, Johnson Laird) </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Linguistics (Fillmore, Lakoff, Langacker) </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistics (Chafe) </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropology (Bateson, Frake) </li></ul><ul><li>Ehtnography of speaking (Hymes, Troike) </li></ul><ul><li>Sociology (Goffman, Hymes) </li></ul><ul><li>Interactional Sociolinguistics (Gumperz, Schiffrin, Tannen) </li></ul><ul><li>Policy analysis (Schon, Rein) </li></ul>
    24. 24. Frame by other names <ul><li>Psychological/Cognitive </li></ul><ul><li>schemas </li></ul><ul><li>metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>scripts </li></ul><ul><li>scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>domains </li></ul><ul><li>mental spaces </li></ul><ul><li>cognitive models </li></ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul><ul><li>frame </li></ul><ul><li>expectation </li></ul><ul><li>footing </li></ul><ul><li>layering </li></ul><ul><li>perspective </li></ul><ul><li>point of view </li></ul><ul><li>stereotype </li></ul>
    25. 25. Literacy Text 1 The United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) aims to extend the use of literacy to those who do not currently have access to it . Over 861 million adults are in that position, and over 113 million children are not in school and therefore not gaining access to literacy either . The Decade will focus on the needs of adults with the goal that people everywhere should be able to use literacy to communicate within their own community, in the wider society and beyond. Literacy efforts have so far failed to reach the poorest and most marginalised groups of people – the Decade will particularly address such populations, under the banner of Literacy for all: voice for all, learning for all . The outcome of the Decade will be locally sustainable literate environments . These environments will give people opportunities to express their ideas and views, engage in effective learning, participate in the written communication which characterises democratic societies, and exchange knowledge with others . This will include increasingly the use of electronic media and information technologies, both as a means of self-expression and for accessing and assessing the vast stores of knowledge available today. http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=27158&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
    26. 26. Literacy Text 2 Literacy and Development: Opening New Doors, Creating New Horizons Literacy benefits both individuals and their communities . Learning to read boosts self-esteem and provides important new skills. In Africa, farmers discovered that they began getting better prices for their crops when it was evident they could read and write . In the Philippines, newly literate adults have begun opening bank accounts and managing their money more knowledgeably . In India, newly literate Oriyans now qualify for desirable jobs which had previously gone to outsiders. Moreover, the effects of literacy often extend beyond personal benefits . UNESCO has stated that an effective literacy program can lead to “participation in formal community organizations” This has been evident in SIL-directed literacy programs. For example, after becoming literate, the Vagla of northern Ghana began to increase their involvement in the political affairs of their community . In 1979, four years after the program began, they had equal representation on the District Council Committee in Bole. http://www.sil.org/literacy/lit90/litedeve.htm
    27. 27. Underlying frames <ul><li>Literacy as a thing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It can be used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It can be possessed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Literacy as a state </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It can be accessed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It can be achieved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Literacy environments can be created </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Literacy causality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic benefits: read > job > money </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal benefits: write > communicate > express self </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Societal benefits: read > understand problem > vote </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Literacy referentiality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ community participation’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ sustainable environments’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ information access’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Literacy images and stories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>farmer reading bills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Filipino opening a bank account </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>person in a voting booth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>person writing email </li></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Critiquing the frames <ul><li>If literacy is a thing: is it always the same thing? Can people really ‘access’ it? </li></ul><ul><li>What lies just outside the images of ‘literacy’ do we have in the western cultures </li></ul><ul><li>What do the stories look like when we fill them out with detail? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we find stories that are counter examples to the frame building stories? Why are they so much more difficult to accept? </li></ul>
    29. 29. Key readings van Dijk, Teun A. 1993. Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis.  Discourse Society  4, no. 2 (April 1): 249-283. doi:10.1177/0957926593004002006.  http://das.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/4/2/249 .  Schön, Donald A. 1994.  Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies . New York: BasicBooks. Chs. 2 and 3 Wetherell M, Taylor S and Yates S.2001.  Discourse as data: a guide for analysis . SAGE, London. Ch 8.