Volume 9 (2) 2017: Special Issue – Discourse: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Identity


Roberta Piazza & Charlotte Taylor

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Jessica S. Robles

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  • This paper employs discourse analysis and draws on interdisciplinary approaches to examine how identity is constructed in conversation. The purpose of the paper is twofold: to present an argument for a particular exclusionary practice in everyday life; and to show how this practice is revealed through discourse analytic methods. Specifically, the analysis describes how extremely negative moral assessments about outgroup identity-related behaviour constitute a high-risk strategy for ingrouping with co-participants in ordinary face-to-face interactions. Demonstrating this strategy shows how discourse analysis can provide a frame through which to understand what interactional resources are available to people and therefore how we might reflect on the relationship between local exclusionary practices and broader social phenomena such as racism and sexism.

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Hilary Bruffell

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  • As part of a multidisciplinary approach to Identity, this paper takes a psychological perspective to the role of self-efficacy in stigma theory. Maintaining a positive sense of self is a central feature of research into stigmatised identities. Breakwell (1993) suggests that there are four motivational principles which are essential to this; self-esteem, continuity, distinctiveness and self-efficacy, yet within the stigma literature only self-esteem seems to be mentioned and it appears to be used as a general term to cover all the other principles. This is important to the work on stigma because as Bandura (1986: 395) suggests, self-efficacy allows the individual to ‘produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it’.   This study extends the work of Bruffell (2015) and examines the role of self-efficacy in stigma theory with young mothers living in hostels in the south-east of England. Interviews were analysed with Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and semantic content and language use were explored to identify common themes arising within the interviewees’/women’s accounts. Findings from this study indicate that having a baby provides young mothers with the opportunity to create and maintain a positive sense of self-efficacy, which might play a role in ameliorating the negative effects of living with a stigmatised label. Moreover, it would appear that whilst traditional views of stigma might have conflated the concepts of self-esteem and self-efficacy, these findings suggest that these two concepts may operate independently.

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Annabelle Mooney

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  • Get rich books are a staple part of the self-help genre. Like many exponents of this genre, get rich books encourage readers to adopt new practices, worldviews and identities. In particular, the texts examined here all invite readers to exploit the power of positive thinking. Focussing on textual features and construing ‘discourse’ from the point of view of critical discourse analysis, I examine the rhetorical features of these texts. Specifically I argue that narrative, repetition and assertion all have a role in persuading readers to adopt an entirely new world view and a related view of the self. This worldview has ontological and epistemological consequences. That is, the laws of cause and effect found in these texts locate responsibility for financial success entirely at the (often subconscious) level of the individual. I further suggest that these texts advocate and encourage a form of extremism: extremist capitalism. While capitalism is not normally thought capable of being extremist, I argue that the extremism of these books is a consequence of the way the texts extend the values of dominant neo-liberal ideology to their logical and individualistic conclusion. The violence of this extremism is not directly physical; however through its endorsement and erasure of structural inequalities and its construction of a particular subject position and identity that supports and enforces capitalism, it is violent nevertheless.

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Peter Lee


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  • Discourses on lethal drone operations in the twenty-first century have commonly focused on the physical effects of drone strikes – usually by the CIA – on populations and individuals, and on associated disputes over the legitimacy of such actions. Until now, the secrecy surrounding drone programmes has excluded the perspective of serving military drone operators from public and academic debate. Drawing on both public discourse and interviews with Royal Air Force Reaper drone personnel, this paper explores two ways in which the identity of the drone operator is formed and self-created. Identity formed through other-representation in public discourse is contrasted with elements of identity as practice in the operators’ own discourse. Foucault identified the objectivizing of the subject as a means by which an individual’s identity is constituted in discourse, while also highlighting technologies of the self that are used when the individual’s identity is self-created (Foucault and Rabinow 1997: 224-5). Further, Foucault’s self-forming ethical subject emerges in two ontologically distinct but entwined trajectories: first, in relation to socially or culturally accepted rules, laws, prohibitions and interdictions, which he calls the moral code; and second, through practices of the self (1984: 5, 25). Drawing on Foucault, this paper provides new insight into the actions and identities of British Reaper drone operators, recognizing the previously-unseen, complex and creative ethical dynamics at work in individuals who routinely take decisions and actions that have life or death consequences.

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Brian Walker & Tatyana Karpenko-Seccombe

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  • This article is interested in discourse presentation which, prototypically, refers to the presentation of speech, writing or thought from an anterior discourse in a posterior discourse. More specifically, the focus here is on the presentation of spoken discourse in a BBC website news story about the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, during an interview on Russian television in 2015. The main concern of the article is the way in which the BBC news website presents Vladimir Putin’s speech in the interview and whether it is faithful to the original. Our analysis shows that the discourse presentation includes/reflects the subjective view of the reporter which at times obscures the original discourse, and affects the way in which the Russian president is represented.

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Sylva Reznik

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  • In April 2016, the Municipal Court in Prague sentenced Igor Shevtsov, a student anarchist activist of Russian origin, to two years of expulsion from the territory of the Czech Republic, for the crime of supporting others in spraying anarchist slogans onto a prison wall. Using this case, I analyse the discursive construction of the identity of ‘the accused’ in the criminal proceedings of this particular case. The analysis of the court judgement and the related texts (courtroom speeches and media coverage) is conducted from the viewpoint of the disciplines of linguistics (critical discourse analysis) and law (socio-legal research). I work within the framework of the discourse-historical approach (Reisigl and Wodak 2009: 87-121) and identify the nomination, predication, argumentation, perspectivation/framing, and intensification/mitigation strategies (Reisigl and Wodak 2001: 31-90) employed by the prosecution, the judge and the defence. These include, for instance, references to Igor Shevtsov as ‘the accused’ or ‘the guilty’ and the topoi (and fallacies) of recidivism or utilitarianism. It is concluded that the sentence might have been influenced by another (unproven) accusation dealt with by the court: Shevtsov was also suspected of throwing a Molotov onto the family house of the Czech Minister of Defence. The court’s simultaneous dealing with the more serious charge discursively reinforced the construction of Shevtsov’s identity as a criminal, probably ‘guilty’ of a terrorist attack.

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Roberta Piazza & Paul Lashmar

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  • There have been many complaints that the BBC coverage of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn has been partial and biased. This paper is part of an interdisciplinary project on the television representation of Jeremy Corbyn that brings together scholars in the disciplines of linguistics (critical discourse analysis), journalism and politics. The paper is a small scale case study examining the coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the 28th September 2016 after he won the leadership by election for the second time in a year. In the first stage we compared the scripting of the reports for the main national UK TV news programmes and the representation of the Labour leader’s identity offered to viewers. In the second, we also evaluate Newsnight, a BBC programme coverage of a slightly different genre, which constructed Corbyn as a particular kind of leader. In addition to the verbal text of the reports, we considered the interplay between the presenter and political correspondent and their tone. This enabled us to broaden our critical discourse analysis to a multimodal investigation and tease out non-textual, nuanced ways of creating partiality. We concluded that some BBC coverage does demonstrate bias and partiality against Corbyn in subtle modes where tone alters the meaning of the script and visuals and the BBC fared badly compared to other mainstream TV news.

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Simon Goodman

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  • This paper provides an overview to conducting discourse analysis (DA) as used in Discursive Psychology. The purpose of this paper is to fill the gap left by there being a lack of useful accounts of how to conduct and write up this type of discourse analysis. It begins by outlining the discursive psychological approach and its claim that analysts should focus on what is accomplished in talk, rather than addressing what this talk may tell us about people’s cognitions. Following this theoretical introduction there is a step by step guide to conducting discourse analysis. This eight-point guide covers 1) deciding on an appropriate question for discourse analysis, 2) picking appropriate data sources for analysis, 3) generating a corpus, 4) transcribing the data, 5) preliminary reading – searching for the action orientation, 6) generating results – discursive devices and rhetorical/interactional strategies, 7) building a case to support the findings, and finally, 8) report writing.

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Arianna Maiorani:

Way, L.C.S., and S. Mckerrell (eds.) (2017). Music As Multimodal Discourse: Semiotics, Power and Protest. London/New York: Bloomsbury. 229 pages; ISBN: 9781474264426 (hbk); Price: £95 (hbk).

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Sam Browse:

Musolff, A. (2016). Political Metaphor Analysis: Discourse and Scenarios. London: Bloomsbury. 208 pages; ISBN: 9781441160669 (pbk); Price: £27.99 (pbk).

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