Volume 4 (1) 2010


Simon Goodman

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  • This paper addresses how members who argue for limiting asylum and immigration in the UK construct and deal with accusations that they are racist. An action orientation focussed discourse analysis is conducted on public sphere data gathered primarily from the British general election campaign of 2005. Opponents of immigration and asylum are shown constructing accusations of racism as a way of stifling a ‘proper’ debate about asylum and immigration. As a result of this, supporters of asylum and immigration are seen using rhetorical delicacy when attempting to make accusations of racism in anticipation of, and in order to deflect, such criticism. It is suggested that in debates about asylum there appears to be an additional disclaimer so that as well as ‘I’m not racist…but’ participants are seen claiming that ‘I’m not calling you racist…but’. The implications of this analysis for discursive psychologists interested in the construction of racism and wider debates about asylum and immigration are discussed.

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Bernhard Forchtner

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  • Why is critical discourse analysis (CDA) critical? CDA takes the position of those being excluded or suffering and, thereby, reminds the audience of modernity’s unredeemed promises.  However, it seems as if critical discourse analysts have understood critique mainly against the background of their progressive consensus.  That is: critical standards have been based on a conventionalist understanding of what is right or wrong.  But this provides neither a theoretical- nor a grounded notion of critique which has led to accusations of CDA being unprincipled.  In this paper, I argue that especially Ruth Wodak’s discourse-historical approach (DHA), which draws on the Frankfurt School, could avoid this by referring in even more detailed ways to Jürgen Habermas’ language-philosophy.  For this, the paper introduces and relates his categories to those of the DHA in order to explicitly outline an emancipatory and grounded concept of critique. 

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Martin Mölder

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  • The word ‘democracy’ is well disseminated among people all over the world, yet there is little detailed knowledge apart from ungrounded assumptions about how this concept is understood outside academia, how it is meaningful to the general public.  This paper aims to uncover some of this meaning on the basis of focus group discussions on democracy conducted in Estonia at the end of 2006.  First of the two objectives of this paper is to introduce aspects of Cognitive Linguistics to aid in this analysis of meaning.  Relying mostly on the notions of categorization and conceptual frames, the second and main objective of the paper is to outline and introduce four frames of democracy as the four main ways this word can be meaningful: the freedom frame, the responsibility frame, the interaction frame and the rules frame.  It is the contention here that together these four frames cover most of the variation in the meaning of the word ‘democracy’ in Estonia.

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Steffi Retzlaff

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  • This article examines the portrayal of the EU during the height of the climate change debate in 2007 as represented by the Canadian media.  One result of the linguistic analysis is the emergence of two competing discourses about the EU, a Euro-sceptical or anti-EU discourse and a Euro-friendly or pro-EU discourse.  This study provides some preliminary results, which illuminate how the media in a non-EU country perceive the power, importance and leadership role of the EU or lack thereof.


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Jacinta Ndambuki & Hilary Janks

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  • This paper is part of a larger project whose overall aim is to investigate the representation of women’s issues in Makueni District, a rural district in Kenya, using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA).  The study explores the mismatches between the way politicians select and represent these issues and the way women construct these issues in women’s groups.  This paper focuses on representations of women’s agency.  How women construct their agency is contrasted with that of politicians and community leaders.  This social science research is multidisciplinary and crosses the fields of language, gender studies and politics.  Data was collected by use of focus group discussions, political speeches and interviews.  The data for the entire study consisted of eleven focus group discussions with women’s groups, four political speeches and ten interviews with politicians and other community leaders.  This article is based on four focus group discussions, and four interviews.  The analysis focuses on the use of pronouns and modality.  Each of these linguistic features provides a different lens on the data which enables us to understand the construction of agency.  While women, politicians and other community leaders construct women’s agency within deficit discourses, these discourses do not match women’s enacted practices or what political and community leaders say they expect of women.  The contradiction inherent in the study is that everyone constructs women as lacking in agency, yet these women act as agentive subjects. 

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Esmat Babaii

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  • Bio-data is a short genre, highly constrained in terms of length and conventional style, through which a contributor to an academic journal or a conference provides a sketch of one’s major academic achievements in a third-person narrative.  To examine the possibility and the extent of professional expertise construction in this genre, 512 bio-data provided by the off-networked participants at the 4th Asia TEFL Conference were analyzed.  The results revealed that within this restricted space and style, some off-Center academics, influenced by their awareness of Center-Periphery relations in the academia, strategically manipulated information about self and their accomplishments to increase their chance of inclusion and visibility in the field.  In short, they tended to foreground and highlight their relationship with Western academic institutions and figures, on the one hand, and background or even suppress their local experience, on the other. 

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