This week in my Media Theory class I am covering the topic of Discourse Analysis. We are reviewing the difference between Fairclough theory vs. Van Dijk theory of discourse analysis. Students will be exploring various types of automobile and fashion advertisements using both the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA) methods.
Chapter 7 – Focus Questions
Background – What is Discourse? When you google the word “Discourse” the first thing to come up is “written or spoken communication or debate”. And as Cambridge Dictionary would say, “discourse is communication in speech or writing”. What we get to understand in simple words is, Discourse refers to a discussion concerning a topic. It can be done in writing or even face to face. In other words, discourse can be communicated through words.
What is discourse analysis? A qualitative methodology that helps us understand social interactions and how social reality is produced through our spoken, written, and visual texts. The focus is on how authors of texts convey their ideas rather than on what those ideas are. See Critical Discourse Analysis Video.
What are the two kinds of discourse analysis?1. Conversation analysis – which is about talk. 2. Narrative analysis – which is about written texts.
What are the three most important themes in discourse analysis? 1. Discourse is language above the sentence, 2. Discourse is language in use, and 3. Discourse is a form of social practice in which language plays a central role.
Background Methodology: Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) – is an application of discourse analysis, it is generally agreed that methods from discourse studies, the humanities, and social sciences may be used in CDA research. This is on the condition that it is able to adequately and relevantly produce insights into the way discourse reproduces (or resists) social and political inequality, power abuse, or domination. CDA does not limit its analysis to specific structures of text or talk but systematically relates these to structures of the sociopolitical context. CDA has been used to examine rhetoric in political speech acts, and any forms of speech that may be used to manipulate the impression given to the audience. However, there have been flaws noted with CDA. For example, it has been said that it is simultaneously too broad to distinctly identify manipulations within the rhetoric, yet is also not powerful enough to appropriately find all that researchers set out to establish.
Norman Fairclough discussed the term CDA in his book Language and Power. Fairclough introduced the concepts that are now viewed as vital in CDA such as “discourse, power, ideology, social practice and common sense.” He argues that language should be analyzed as a social practice through the lens of discourse in both speaking and writing. Fairclough developed a three-dimensional framework for studying discourse (as seen below), where the aim is to map three separate forms of analysis onto one another: analysis of (spoken or written) language texts, analysis of discourse practice (processes of text production, distribution, and consumption), and analysis of discursive events as instances of socio-cultural practice.
Teun A. van Dijk’s approach to Critical Discourse Analysis combines cognitive theories with linguistic and social theories. Van Dijk uses cognition as the middle layer of a three-layer approach consisting of discourse, cognitive, and society. By integrating a cognitive approach, researchers are better able to understand how larger social phenomenon are reinforced through popular, everyday discourse. Critics of this practice point out that his approach focuses on the reproduction of ideologies rather than the transformation.
What are the three dimensions of the field according to Teun A. Van Dijk? 1. Language Use (Text). 2. The Communication of Beliefs (Cognition). 3. Interaction in Social Situations (Social-cultural practice).
What is style? How do discourse analysts deal with style? Style is every word that writers use represents a choice they make and each word is used to create a deliberate impression. Writing is a form of impression management. Obviously, different word choices can have different meanings. Discourse Analysts should not look at what was written, but how it was written. Writers often portray people and their behavior, and descriptions play a role in a way we react to conversations about people or ourselves, writings by scholars, portrayals of characters in novels, drawings of heroes and villains in comic books, and all kinds of other modes of communication that encompass spoken, written and pictorial forms.
How does critical discourse analysis (CDA) define ideology? CDA focuses attention on the use of language by powerful groups in societies to dominate others and on the strategies of resistance by subjugated groups.
What is multimodal critical discourse analysis? How does it differ from CDA?Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA) – involves dealing with complex texts such as those found on Facebook, in advertisements, in various audiovisual mediated texts in a critical manner that is looking for what we might describe as their hidden ideological content. It is because so much modern communication involves images on FB, Pinterest, and other social media sites that MCDA is necessary. vs. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) suggests that ordinary discourse analysis tends to be descriptive and doesn’t deal with ideological aspects of discourse. The ideology in texts is generally not recognized by people exposed to this discourse, even though this ideology often shapes their thinking.
The textbook also covers the following types of discourse analysis used in Political, Advertising, and Fashion. One of the textbook’s ad example is Kenneth Cole’s – Beware of Naked Ambition – See MCDA of Fashion Advertisement on Pages 203-206: 1. Beware of naked ambition, 2. Few seem to care about apathy, 3. Many are questioning the answers, 4. Revolting is now appealing, 5. And movements are being started, 6. One step at a time, 7. How you see the world depends on how you look, 8. Kenneth Cole, and 9. Kenneth Cole Facebook & Twitter, which is not shown in these 2 images below.