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LRDG: Critical discourse analysis and ethnography: a good match?

Date: 7 February 2012 Time: 1 - 2 pm

Venue: C89, County South

In this session, we will discuss David C. Johnson's paper 'Critical Discourse Analysis and the Ethnography of Language Policy', published in Critical Discourse Studies (Vol. 8, No. 4, 2011). As Johnson explains in the introduction to his paper, with his study of bilingual language and education policies in the US, he sought to find out how policy research can bring together an understanding of the macro context (policies to establish bilingual education in schools) with how such generic policies are put into practice in specific local contexts (i.e. individual schools). For the latter, he draws on ethnography, while the former is studied using critical discourse analysis. I became interested in Johnson's paper, because within literacy studies many of us have tried, with greater or lesser success, to bring together a discourse analysis of specific texts with an ethnography of situations in which these texts are used or drawn upon. Accordingly, I suggest the following questions for discussion in the session:

  1. What kind of discourse analysis does Johnson apply?
  2. How did he manage to bring together insights from his analysis of the policy texts with his understandings of how the strategies set out in these texts are realised in practice in the educational settings he worked in? Or, to put it more bluntly: Does his combination of CDA with ethnography work? Does it produce new and relevant insights?
  3. What can we learn from his work that might be applicable to the study of literacy practices?

The article is available among the list of access free journal articles by Taylor & Francis at: contact

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Uta Papen

Organising departments and research centres: Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, Ethnography of literacy, Literacy in multilingual communities, Literacy practices


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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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