(Chouliaraki & Fairclough ). By ”social practice’ I mean a relatively stabilised form of social activity (examples would be classroom teaching, television news. Chouliaraki, Lilie and Fairclough, Norman () Discourse in late modernity: rethinking critical discourse analysis. Edinburgh University Press. Chouliaraki, L., & Fairclough, N. (). Discourse in Late Modernity Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis. Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Critical discourse analysis Critical Discourse Analysis Norman Fairclough Abstract Critical discourse analysis CDA is ajd branch of critical social analysis, which contributes to the latter a focus on discourse and on relations between discourse and other social elements e.

Critical social analysis is normative and explanatory critique: There is a long tradition within critical social analysis of viewing social reality as conceptually mediated: I shall present one version of CDA, and a trans-disciplinary research methodology associated with it, and illustrate it through a discussion of aspects of the current financial and economic crisis.

Introduction Critical discourse analysis CDA brings the critical tradition in social analysis into language studies, and contributes to critical social analysis a particular focus on discourse, and on relations between discourse and other choukiaraki elements power relations, ideologies, institutions, social identities, and so forth. Critical social analysis can be understood as normative and explanatory critique. It is normative critique in that does not simply describe existing realities but also evaluates them, assesses the extent to which they match up to various values which are taken more or less contentiously to be fundamental for just or decent societies e.

The paper will be structured as follows.

Critical discourse analysis () | Norman Fairclough –

First I shall elaborate what I have said so far about critical social analysis, and further discuss CDA as a part of critical social analysis. Second, I shall present one version of CDA, and, third, a trans-disciplinary research methodology associated with it. Fourth and finally, I shall illustrate it through a discussion of aspects of the current financial and economic crisis. The version of CDA is the one which I have been developing and using in my recent work.

It differs in various respects from versions in earlier publications eg Fairclough, Critical analysis of discourse as a part of critical social analysis What distinguishes critical social analysis from forms of social analysis which are not critical is its emphasis upon existing social realities as humanly produced constraints which in certain respects unnecessarily reduce human flourishing or well-being and increase human suffering, upon historical explanation of how and why such social realities have come into being, and upon possibilities for transforming existing realities in ways which enhance well-being and reduce suffering.

I suggested above that this critique is normative and explanatory, concerned with both values and causes.

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Some versions of critique are only normative or moral, but I take the Marxist view that changing the world for the better depends upon being able to explain how it has come to be the way it is.

A purely normative or moral critique is not enough if the aim is to change social realities for the better, but values, evaluation and moral critique are a necessary part of critical social science Sayer This means that dialectical relations between the material and the semiotic are a necessary focus in both normative and explanatory critique. The version of CDA which I outline below is well placed to bring a focus on these material- semiotic relations into trans-disciplinary critical social research.

CDA has for instance addressed the ideological character of discourse Fairclough This is open to normative critique as a false claim in that the analogy does not stand up to serious economic scrutiny, and as ideological in the sense that it is a discourse which can contribute to sustaining an unjust and inequitable socio-economic order.

To explain the strategy of off-loading onto the public the costs of rescuing the markets from themselves, of which there are many other historical instances, we need to bring in material-structural factors associated with the character of capitalism but also semiotic factors including such examples of the causal power of common sense and commonsensical construals in bringing about material effects particular trajectories within and out of the crisis.

Causes can be semiotic as well as material, and CDA can contribute to the project in critical social science of showing the relationships between the two.

One version of CDA In this section I shall briefly present the primary concepts, categories and relations associated with the version of CDA which I have recently worked with. Semiosis is viewed here as an element of the social process which is dialectically related to others. So social relations, power, institutions, beliefs and cultural values are in part semiotic, i.

CDA focuses not just upon semiosis as such, but on relations between semiotic and other social elements. The nature of this relationship varies between institutions and organizations, and according to time and place, and it needs to be established through analysis. The social process can be seen as the interplay between three levels of social reality: In this approach to CDA, analysis is focused on two dialectical relations: There are three major ways in which semiosis relates to other elements of social practices and of social events – as a facet of action; in the construal representation of aspects of the world; and in the constitution of identities.


And there are three semiotic or: Genres are semiotic ways of acting and interacting such as news or job interviews, reports or editorials in newspapers, or advertisements on TV or the internet. Part of doing a job, or running a country, is interacting semiotically or communicatively in certain ways, and such activities have distinctive sets of genres associated with them.

Discourses are semiotic ways of construing chouliarxki of the faorclough physical, social or mental which can generally be identified with different positions or perspectives of different groups of social actors. For instance, the lives of poor people are not only construed through different discourses associated with different social practices in politics, medicine, social welfare, academic sociology but through different discourses in each which correspond to differences of position and perspective.

The semiotic fairclougn of networks of social practices which constitute social fields, institutions, organizations etc. Orders of discourse are particular configurations of different genres, different discourses, and different styles. An order of discourse is a social structuring of semiotic difference, a particular social ordering of relationships between different ways of making meaning — different genres, discourses and styles.

So for example the network of social practices which constitutes the field of education, or a particular educational organization such as a university, is constituted semiotically as an order of discourse. Texts are to fiarclough understood in an inclusive sense, not only written texts but also e.

Some events consist almost entirely of texts e. Discourses which originate in some particular social field or institution e. Enactment and inculcation may themselves take semiotic forms: Fairvlough modality is important: CDA oscillates as I have indicated between a focus on structures especially the intermediate level of structuring of social practices and a focus on strategies, a focus on shifts in the structuring of semiotic difference orders of discourse and a focus on strategies of social agents which manifest themselves in texts.

In both perspectives, a central concern is shifting relations between genres, between discourses and between styles: The term interdiscursivity is reserved for the latter: A trans-disciplinary research methodology The focus I 19999 just indicated on relations between semiosis and other elements calls for interdisciplinary chouloaraki — more exactly it requires CDA to be integrated within frameworks for trans-disciplinary research. This version of CDA is associated with a general method which I briefly indicated in the final paragraph of the last section, but the specific methods used for a particular piece of research arise from the theoretical process of constructing its object.

Focus upon a social wrong, in its semiotic aspects. Identify obstacles to addressing the social wrong. Identify possible ways past the obstacles.

Focus upon a social wrong, in its semiotic aspect CDA is a form of critical social science geared to better understanding of the nature and sources of social wrongs, the obstacles to addressing them, and possible ways of overcoming those obstacles.

Examples might be poverty, forms of inequality, lack of freedom, or racism. We can elaborate Stage 1 in two steps: Selecting such topics has the advantage of ensuring that research is relevant to the issues, problems and wrongs of the day, but also the danger that their very obviousness can lead us to take them too much at face value.

Construct objects of research for initially identified research topics by theorizing them in a trans-disciplinary way. Let me anticipate the example I shall discuss in aand next section: This is a huge topic various aspects of which might productively be approached with a focus on dialectical relations between semiotic and material moments. Constructing objects of research is a trans- disciplinary process, so we would need to decide which relevant bodies of social science and theory to engage with.

Social wrongs we might focus upon include: Each of these has significant fairckough aspects. Stage 2 approaches the social wrong in a rather indirect way by asking what it is about the way in which amd life is structured and organized that prevents it from being addressed. Steps can be formulated as follows: Analyse dialectical relations between semiosis and other social elements: Select texts, and focuses and categories for their analysis, in the light of fairclokgh appropriate to the constitution of the object of research.

Taken together, these three steps indicate an important feature of this version of CDA: Analysis of texts can effectively contribute to this only in so far as it is located within a wider analysis of the object of research choouliaraki terms of dialectical relations between semiotic and other elements which comprehends relations between the chouliaraku of social practices and the anx of events and between orders of discourse and texts.

It is not awfully obvious what this means, and I shall try to clarify it by again anticipating the example, with respect to a social wrong I identified above: A broad answer might be to show that capitalism has historically not only asserted the supreme worth of markets and, to varying degrees, the need for them to operate with minimal political and social control, but also claimed that it is the job of the state to bail them out when periodic but regular and predictable crises occur.


Stage 3 leads us to consider whether the social wrong in focus is inherent to the social order, whether it can be addressed choouliaraki it, or only by fairckough it. It also connects with questions of ideology: Stage 4 moves the analysis from negative to positive critique: A specifically semiotic focus would include, in the case of the crisis, ways in which the discourses, narratives, arguments etc.

Illustration – critical research on the financial and economic crisis The events of the financial and economic crisis are relatively clear, but its chouliarski are more contentious. There are numerous explanatory accounts of it which differ for instance in the relative fhouliaraki they give to structural causes e. Most explanatory accounts directly or indirectly recognize that semiosis, or discourse, anc to figure in explanations.

The Discourse, we might say, became a dogma. Analysing, interpreting and explaining these processes might be part of one possible piece of research oriented to the crisis, which might seek to assess the impact of this Discourse and its operationalizations in the establishment, maintenance and legitimation of the neo-liberal order, but also address the question of how the Discourse might have contributed to the apparent incapacity of bankers, regulators, governments etc to understand the dangers of that order and anticipate its crises.

But it follows from what I have said above that the object of such a piece of research should be constructed in a trans-disciplinary way. For instance, from cultural political economy CPE one might take a theory of structuration which focuses on dialectical relations between structures and strategies, and includes a framework for explaining how, from a variety of strategies, certain ones come to be selected and retained and, in CDA terms, recontextualized and operationalized.

CPE also includes ways of addressing the processes of systemic and governance failure which link this historical account of neo-liberalism to the current crisis.

Discourse in late modernity: rethinking critical discourse analysis – LSE Research Online

If we turn to Stage 2, the primary question is: Let us focus on the current period. Trans-disciplinary analysis of the contemporary political-economic situation might suggest that the neoliberal order, and Discourse, have been weakened to the point that the obstacles to surpassing it that one might have identified a few years choulkaraki are much less daunting.

But this does not mean that any new strategy for replacing neo-liberalism, whatever that may be, would necessarily address the central wrong at issue in its essentials — a new strategy may not overcome the problems of an chouliarkai order with unjust effects e.

One tendency which might be focused upon for instance is for certain governments, including the British government, to pursue a strategy for restitution of the status quo ante chouliarako only relatively minor modifications of, for instance, regulatory systems.

We know now that financial institutions are international, that capital flows are global, but their regulators and supervisors have remained so far only national.

So we have highly interdependent financial flows which dwarf world GDP, but as yet no effective system for policing them. And as the downturn spreads across the world we are for the first time seeing cross-border flows growing more slowly than domestic flows and we are seeing banks favouring their domestic lending over foreign lending.

And this is a trend which must be halted if we are to avoid the risk of a damaging worldwide spiral of deleveraging and then deglobalisation with adverse consequences for all our economies.

We can sustain a consensus for an open global economy where countries can draw on their deep capital markets to finance faster development which benefits us all, but only if we can provide also a means of responding when these markets fail. A short extract can only give a partial impression of the flavor of the whole speech. Stage 3, addressing the question of whether the social order needs the social wrong, gives rise to the question of whether it is possible within a capitalist system to develop and implement a new strategy which can overcome the injustices and the dangers of crisis.

Although one might argue that these are to an extent endemic in all forms of capitalism, one might also argue that forms of capitalism have differed markedly in the extent to which they have mitigated these tendencies and dangers, which would indicate that it is in principle possible for a new form of capitalism which mitigates the wrongs of neo-liberalism to emerge, though that leaves open the question of whether it is practicable in existing conditions.