DISCOURSES:
CONVERSATIONS,
NARRATIVES AND
AUTOBIOGRAPHIES AS TEXTS
© LOUIS COHEN, LAWRENCE
MANION & KEITH MORRISON
STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER
• What is a discourse?
• A conversational analysis
• A narrative discourse
• Autobiography
WHAT IS A DISCOURSE?
• The meanings that are given to texts which
create and shape knowledge and behaviour
by the exercise...
WHAT IS A DISCOURSE?
• Discourse is the ‘tactical dimension’ of the
operation of power in individuals, groups and
organiza...
WHAT IS A DISCOURSE?
To be a discourse a text must have:
• Cohesion
• Coherence
• Intentionality
• Acceptability
• Informa...
FOUR METHODS OF DISCOURSE
ANALYSIS
• Analyzing words in context
• Analyzing interactions conducted through
language
• Anal...
CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS
• It is a rigorous investigation of features of a
conversation, how it is generated and
constructe...
CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS
• Looks at the contents, sequence, evolution
and forms of the conversation.
• The more interpretiv...
A NARRATIVE DISCOURSE . . .
• Reports personal experiences or observations
and brings fresh insights to often familiar
sit...
A NARRATIVE DISCOURSE . . .
• Uses data selectively and reports them in non-
neutral terms.
• Can let the researcher repor...
AUTOBIOGRAPHY
• We regard ‘lived time’ as a narrative, a story that
has meaning for us and which shapes our lives
‘we beco...
AUTOBIOGRAPHY
• An autobiographical narrative is multilayered
and selective, and can be deconstructed at
many levels, e.g....
AUTOBIOGRAPHY
• What is excluded is as important as what is
included.
• Texts may be read and interpreted in many
ways.
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Chapter31

  1. 1. DISCOURSES: CONVERSATIONS, NARRATIVES AND AUTOBIOGRAPHIES AS TEXTS © LOUIS COHEN, LAWRENCE MANION & KEITH MORRISON
  2. 2. STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER • What is a discourse? • A conversational analysis • A narrative discourse • Autobiography
  3. 3. WHAT IS A DISCOURSE? • The meanings that are given to texts which create and shape knowledge and behaviour by the exercise of power through texts and conversations. • A discourse is a way of thinking, culturally or institutionally conditioned, which is legitimated by communities, often those with power. • Discourses shape, and are shaped by, different meanings. People are members of different discourse communities – those communities which hold similar values, views, ideas and ways of looking at the world.
  4. 4. WHAT IS A DISCOURSE? • Discourse is the ‘tactical dimension’ of the operation of power in individuals, groups and organizations. • A text can be the bearer of several discourses. • Discourse analysis reveals how power operates and is legitimated or challenged in and through discourses. • Discourse analysis has to take account of the social contexts in which the texts are set. • Discourses are often emic.
  5. 5. WHAT IS A DISCOURSE? To be a discourse a text must have: • Cohesion • Coherence • Intentionality • Acceptability • Informativeness • Situationality • Intertextuality
  6. 6. FOUR METHODS OF DISCOURSE ANALYSIS • Analyzing words in context • Analyzing interactions conducted through language • Analyzing patterns of language use • Analyzing the links between language and the constitution, structure and nature of society
  7. 7. CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS • It is a rigorous investigation of features of a conversation, how it is generated and constructed, how it operates, what are its distinguishing features, and how participants construct their own meanings in the conversational situation. • Conversations are multi-layered/multi-levelled. • It examines different levels of meaning within a text.
  8. 8. CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS • Looks at the contents, sequence, evolution and forms of the conversation. • The more interpretive one becomes in the analysis, the more risk there is of researcher projection. • Conversation analysis may include non-verbal and verbal aspects.
  9. 9. A NARRATIVE DISCOURSE . . . • Reports personal experiences or observations and brings fresh insights to often familiar situations. • Tells a story. • Uses rich detail and carefully chosen words – for effect/power/vividness. • Is strongly interpretivist, with meanings constructed through observations and language. • Makes it difficult to separate facts from observations
  10. 10. A NARRATIVE DISCOURSE . . . • Uses data selectively and reports them in non- neutral terms. • Can let the researcher report a situation vividly from the perspective of the participants – their ‘definition of the situation’.
  11. 11. AUTOBIOGRAPHY • We regard ‘lived time’ as a narrative, a story that has meaning for us and which shapes our lives ‘we become the autobiographical narratives by which we ‘tell about’ our lives’ (Bruner, 2004); our own stories direct our future lives. • Stories instruct, reveal and inform. • An autobiography is ‘a privileged but troubled narrative because it is both subjective and objective, reflective and reflexive, and in which the narrator is also the central figure’ (Bruner, 2004).
  12. 12. AUTOBIOGRAPHY • An autobiographical narrative is multilayered and selective, and can be deconstructed at many levels, e.g.: personal, cultural, interpersonal ideological, linguistic. • An autobiography contains facts, themes, actors, a sequence, agency, coherence, situatedness, and a sense of audience. • The narrative may employ a chronological sequence which is interrupted to break off into reflection or comment.
  13. 13. AUTOBIOGRAPHY • What is excluded is as important as what is included. • Texts may be read and interpreted in many ways.

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