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Half day symposium - Critique meets Corpora: Implications for research on contentious issues

Date: 24 October 2011 Time: 2.00 - 6.00 pm

Venue: FASS MR 2-3

The department is hosting a half day symposium entitled "Critique meets Corpora: Implications for research on contentious issues".

Speakers include Kieran O'Halloran, Ruth Wodak and Susan Hunston.

If you would like to attend please contact Paul Baker via email -


The recent interest in the 'useful methodological synergy' (Baker et al. 2008) of corpus-based methods and qualitative analysis within a critical discourse studies framework has given rise to numerous projects and publications. While there is ongoing debate about the development of these methods and their practical application in various research contexts, as yet there has not been much discussion of the moral and ethical issues involved in this kind of research. Specifically, there is work to do in integrating the traditionally data-driven approach of corpus linguistics and the (social) problem-oriented approach of critical discourse studies. This dichotomy comes into sharp focus when the combined approaches are applied to contentious issues (e.g. antisemitism, immigration, climate change, etc.).

To this end, we are planning a half-day symposium to explore and discuss the following questions, among others:

  • How can the traditional paradigms of corpus linguistics and critical discourse studies be combined or adapted to each other in researching contentious issues?
  • What are the ethical implications of researching contentious issues using the various methods employed in corpus-assisted discourse studies and other 'synergistic' approaches?
  • How can researchers deal with divergent 'majority' and 'minority' views on issues, when a broad data selection policy may lead to the dominance of the former and the overshadowing of the latter in corpus analyses?
  • Should the overt political stance adopted by many critical discourse scholars be reflected in the corpus-based approaches chosen, and if so, how?
  • To what extent do corpus methods help to reduce researcher bias, and is it possible or necessary to reduce researcher bias?
  • Should the concerns and viewpoints of affected groups being studied (e.g. asylum seekers) be incorporated into this research framework from the beginning and if so, how?

We hope that the ultimate outcome of the symposium will be a better understanding of how the different research traditions that have given rise to corpus-assisted discourse studies and related approaches can be integrated, and a strengthening of the ethical underpinnings in this field.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Paul Baker

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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