Volume 1 (1) 2007


Giulio Pagini

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  • In this paper the discursive construction of states and citizens is examined by considering the meanings of texts in the light of Bourdieu’s (1991) notions of linguistic markets and Halliday’s (1978) notion of language as social semiotic.  Register Theory is used to provide a framework for text analysis of discourse produced by a local government institution in order to map linguistic changes onto changes in the apparent relationship between citizens, states and ‘the market’.

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    3. Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    4. Bourdieu, P. (1994) Rethinking the state: Genesis and structure of the bureaucratic field. Sociological Theory 12 (1): 1-18.
    5. Burns, T. and Carson, M. (2005) Social order and disorder: Institutions, policy paradigms and discourses: An interdisciplinary approach.  In R. Wodak and P. Chilton (eds.),A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp.283-309.
    6. Chilton, P. (2004) Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.
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    11. Fairclough, N. (1988) Register, power and socio-semantic change.  In D.Birch and M. O’Toole (eds.), Functions of Style. London: Pinter. pp.111-125.
    12. Fairclough, N. (1989) Language and ideology. English Language Research 3: 9-27.
    13. Fairclough, N. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.
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    17. Hall, S. (1992) The question of cultural identity.  In S. Hall, D. Held and T. McGrew (eds.) Modernity and its Futures. Cambridge: Polity Press in association with the Open University. pp.273-325.
    18. Halliday, M.A.K. (1978) Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. London: Edward Arnold.
    19. Halliday, M.A.K. and Hasan, R. (1980) Text and context: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective.  In Sophia Linguistica, Working Papers in Linguistics No6.Tokyo: Sophia University.
    20. Halliday, M.A.K. and Matthiessen, C. (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd edn.). London: Arnold.
    21. Iedema, R. (1997) The language of administration: organising human activity in formal institutions.  In F. Christie and J.R. Martin (eds.), Genre and Institutions: Social Processes in the Workplace and School. London: Cassell. pp.73-100.
    22. Johnstone, B. (2002) Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.
    23. Keat, R., Whiteley, N. and Abercrombie, N. (1994) Introduction.  In R. Keat, N. Whiteley and N. Abercrombie (eds.), The Authority of the Consumer. London: Routledge. pp.1-19
    24. Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (2001) Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication. London: Arnold.
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    29. Shotter, J. (1993) Psychology and citizenship: Identity and belonging.  In B. Turner (ed.), Citizenship and Social Theory. London: Sage. pp.115-138.
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Mei Li Lean

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  • In this article, an intertextual analysis is carried out to examine the various voices that are given space in the text and see how they are woven together textually. This entails examining how they are recontextualised in the new context and how they are framed in relation to each other and in relation to the writer’s voice. This study is based on media texts, with particular emphasis given to the boundaries drawn in the data between public and private orders of discourse, and the ambivalence of ‘voice’ embedded within the order of discourse. The investigation of the present study is undertaken using the analytic paradigm of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) employed by Fairclough (1992, 1995a, 1995b, 2003). The data is extracted from TIME magazine since reports on AIDS were first published there in 1983 until 2005. Adhering to the CDA paradigm as constructed by Fairclough, the article investigates how the media in the advent of disseminating information on AIDS, have ‘recontextualised’ scientific discourse about the disease for public consumption. The results from the intertextual analysis indicate that the representation of AIDS is constructed within the paradigm of how the disease is defined, and the associative meanings attached to the disease.

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    2. Fairclough, N. (1989) Language and Power. London: Longman.
    3. Fairclough, N.  (1992) Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    4. Fairclough, N. (1995a) Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Longman.
    5. Fairclough, N.  (1995b) Media Discourse. London: Arnold.
    6. Fairclough, N.  (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London: Routledge.
    7. Zuraidah Mohd Don and Lean, M.L. (2002) Discourse, power and subjectivity: Print media and the discursive construction of AIDS. In A.H. Omar, H.M. Said and Z.A. Majid (eds.), Language and Empowerment. Malaysian Association of Modern Languages, University of Malaya. pp.361-73.



Simon Goodman

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  • In this paper I show how families of asylum seekers are constructed by members of the public. A discourse analysis is conducted on a UK internet message board where members of the public were asked to comment on councils’ decisions not to implement Section nine of the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act. This is a ruling which allows children to be separated from their failed asylum seeker parents. The nature of these asylum-seeking families, which are potentially threatened by this law, comes to be constructed in two opposing ways, utilising two different repertoires: first, as a loving family and second, as a unit for breeding. The loving family repertoire normalises the asylum seekers in question, which reduces the ‘us and them’ dichotomy often found in talk about asylum seekers and appeals to humanitarian arguments in support of asylum seekers and against section nine. By contrast the breeding repertoire dehumanises these families and undermines their legitimacy. This rhetorically allows for the separating of these families and so justifies this harsh treatment of asylum seekers. I discuss the implications of these findings for the understanding of asylum seekers and in terms of possible resistance to anti-asylum talk.

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    3. Billig, M. (2002)Henri Tajfel’s ‘Cognitive aspects of prejudice’ and the psychology of bigotry. British Journal of Social Psychology 41: 171–188.
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Elena Magistro

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  • This paper presents the preliminary results of a study on the discourse of the European Union (EU). I argue that the EU, as a public institution, is affected by the global spread of consumerism from the private to the public sphere, and the production of new forms of commodities, known as ‘public goods’. As the lack of a feeling of European belonging among EU citizens is often thought to fuel Euro-skepticism, I also argue that the European identity is among the main ‘products’ that need to be advertised to smooth the process of European integration. However, promoting a supranational identity may be particularly problematic in the European context since, generally speaking, Europeans possess well-defined national identities. In pragmatic terms, promoting a European identity may be perceived as a threat to Europeans’ national face and provoke further resistance.  Drawing from Fairclough’s analytical taxonomy (1989) and Brown and Levinson’s politeness model (1987), the study suggests that EU discourse does feature traits of the promotional genre typical of corporate communication, and that the European identity represents a key object of this promotion; the analysis also reveals discursive efforts to safeguard Europeans’ positive and negative national face. Although no generalizations are possible, considering the limited sample of EU discourse examined, the findings and pragmatic reading proposed henceforth offer interesting insights for further research in this direction.

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Felicitas Macgilchrist

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  • Signalling one of the new directions now emerging alongside (Critical) Discourse Analysis, Jim Martin and David Rose (2003) have called for more Positive Discourse Analysis. PDA describes what texts ‘do well’ and ‘get right’ in our eyes. This paper thus investigates strategies for propelling marginal discourses into the mainstream news media. News stories tend to appear in the press within overarching ‘frames’ (Gamson 1989; Lakoff 2002), e.g. in an analysis of 1,000 news items on the Russian-Chechen conflict, the ‘Villain-Victim’ frame is widespread (to caricature: Russians are human-rights-abusing aggressors; Chechens are oppressed independence-fighters). Interviews with journalists support this textual analysis. Only very rarely do news stories successfully contest the dominant frames. The paper (i) discusses current research on counter-discourse, (ii) takes a case study approach to illustrate five strategies used in those few texts which contest the mainstream discourse, and (iii) suggests more general explanations – drawn from lexicogrammatical analysis, media practices, cognitive linguistics and psychology – as to why the ‘radical reframing’ strategy works. Despite the small scale nature of this analysis, it illuminates a useful application of PDA. Identifying which reframings resonate with editors (i.e. are selected for publication) could guide academics wishing to publicly contest media coverage of their areas of expertise or other socially salient issues.

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Peter Teo

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  • This paper focuses on the discursive practice of higher education in Singapore. Specifically, it compares and contrasts how the pressures of globalisation and increasing competition have shaped the discursive practices of two universities in Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University, as they endeavour to ‘market’ themselves through their respective prospectuses targeted at potential students. The theoretical framework and analytic approach adopted in this study relate to what is known broadly as ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, which delves into the dialectical relationship between discursive and social structures, to show that discourse is not only socially constituted but socially constitutive (Fairclough 1989; van Dijk 1993). The analysis, which focuses on the construction of interpersonal meanings through both visual and verbal means, shows how one prospectus maintains a relatively university-centred and authoritative voice while the other adopts a more student-centred stance and assumes a more egalitarian relationship between students and the university. Both, however, are seen to succumb to the pressures of ‘globalisation’ and ‘marketisation’ (Fairclough 1993), which force the universities to operate as if they were ‘ordinary businesses competing to sell their products to consumers’ (Fairclough 1993: 141). The implications for higher education are discussed.

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Johanna Caborn

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  • Foucault never wrote an explicit methodology of discourse analysis, let alone dispositive analysis. In this paper, I first briefly outline definitions of the dispositive, drawing on a combination of the everyday French language use of the word ‘dispositif’ and Foucault’s own writings. From Foucault’s emphasis on the heterogeneity of the elements of the dispositive, I look at how Siegfried Jäger has suggested using this characteristic of the dispositive to operationalise dispositive analysis. I propose to add a semiological approach into the method of dispositive analysis, using an example from my own work on the analysis of state architecture in Germany and introducing the concept of the ‘Foucauldian sign’. Then Jürgen Link’s writings on the dispositive are considered, which add the concepts of power and knowledge into the analysis. The paper concludes with a graphical representation of the dispositive, and a suggestion of a three step process of dispositive analysis.

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Tatjana Radanović Felberg

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  • This article suggests that illuminating Discourse Models in key discourses, like addresses to the nation, can help us make sense of the actions and relations between political actors, in this case Serbia and Montenegro. The material analyzed in this article is the address to the nation given by Slobodan Milošević, president of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, published in the pro-government Serbian newspaper Politika, and the address to the citizens by Milo Đukanović, president of Montenegro, published in the pro-Montenegrin newspaper Pobjeda. Đukanović and Milošević were political enemies at the time. Serbia and Montenegro led different politics even though they were part of the same country and as such they were both bombed.  In their addresses, Đukanović and Milošević used different Discourse Models (Defence War Discourse Model vs. Neutral Mediator Discourse Model) and by doing so they set limitations to readings, not only to these initial texts, but to all the subsequent texts, and anticipated different representations of the outcome of the war.

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Steve Oswald

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  • This paper addresses the possibility of a cognitive account of argumentation, by focusing on a tentative interplay between one of today’s most influential theories of argumentation – van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s Pragma-Dialectics – and Relevance Theory. With this purpose, I address the extent to which cognitive approaches to communication are able to incorporate pragma-dialectical insights.  Both paradigms share today an assumption of ‘soft rationality’ allowing a significant departure from formal logic conceptions of communication. These experience difficulties in accounting for successful argumentation relying on logically deficient arguments, i.e. fallacies. Acknowledging Pragma-Dialectics’ contribution in this respect, I investigate the model’s compatibility with a cognitive agenda based on assumptions entirely different from those of a normative agenda such as Pragma-Dialectics’. The difference between Relevance Theory’s internal perspective and Pragma-Dialectics’ external perspective on discourse gives evidence of a different approach to communication. In the end, this comes down to evaluating whether these divergences are, in argumentation studies, irreconcilable.

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Simo K. Määttä

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  • Setting rules and defining sanctions is the primary function of law. However, many contemporary laws, in particular laws about culture and language, lack this function. In the EU, these provisions typically concern policy areas outside the Union’s jurisprudence, such as culture, education, and the Union’s general values. These are provisions through which European identity is defined; their proportion in the EU’s treaties reached its peak in the Constitution. There have been hardly any critical linguistic analyses of the text itself although law, by definition, represents, shapes, and codifies the values and ideologies of a society: law is the central site of power and regulates all discourse. Combining a linguistic analysis of transitivity and a discourse analysis of intertextuality, this paper aims at showing precisely how the Constitution is invaded by fragments of political discourse on European identity. The goal is to demonstrate how laws which do not regulate behaviour make beliefs and ideologies appear as accepted knowledge and universal truth.

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Louis de Saussure

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  • Starting from the problems raised by the notion of ‘discourse’ and its definition, this paper takes issue with the views that consider discourse as an object of study observable and describable as a ‘whole’ static structure, and which meaning is richer than the sum of the meanings stemming from the individual utterances composing it. The assumptions previously put forward by authors such as Chafe, who claimed that discourse is better studied as a process unfolding through time, is taken seriously into account. Within the ongoing discussion about the very notion of discourse, some arguments are proposed to sustain the view that all the meaning produced by a given discourse is in fact reducible to the meaning produced by the single utterances composing it; in particular, implicit rhetorical relations are conceived as the result of pragmatic inferences of the same nature as contextual hypotheses in general, and therefore rhetorical relations are to be interpreted at the level of pragmatic meaning.

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