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Defining Discourse Analysis

Discourse: Discourses can be described as a set of linguistic materials

that are coherent (they make sense) in their organization, content, that
enable people to be able to construct (derive) meaning in social context.

Analysis: Analysis is the activity that involves organizing, accounting for,

and explaining the data; this basically means making sense or trying to
understand data in terms of the participant (the people that provided the
data, the sources), noting patterns, arranging them into categories etc.
To simplify it is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into
smaller parts to gain better understanding of it.
So, Discourse Analysis
Discourse Analysis: Discourse analysis is a general term for a number
of approaches to analyze written, vocal, or sign language use, or any
significant semiotic(study of how words make meaning) event. The objects of
discourse analysis (discourse, writing, conversation, communicative event) are
variously defined in terms of coherent sequences of sentences, propositions,
speech, or turns-at-talk. Contrary to much of traditional linguistics, discourse
analysts not only study language use 'beyond the sentence boundary' but
also prefer to analyze 'naturally occurring' language use, not invented
Basically discourse analysis, seeks to uncover, through criticizing ideologies,
the forces that distort communication.
Discourse analysis requires a careful reading and interpretation of textual
material with the interpretation being supported with textual evidence.
According to Potter (1997), discourse analysis has an analytic commitment to
studying discourse as texts and talk in social practices. The focus is on
language as the medium for interaction; analysis of discourse becomes then,
analysis of what people do.
Discourse analysis is basically interested in questions of how different kinds of
speaking and writing produce certain cultural results. It is expressing oneself
using meaning McGregor (2010:2). As noted by James A. Anderson (2012),
these results are not the direct effects of message analysis but the cultural
consequences of a discursive framework. It studies the way language is used
in social contexts and how people make meaning of one another’s messages.
Types of Discourse Analysis include

• Thematic analysis

• Print text analysis

• Oral text analysis

Approaches to Discourse Analysis are
1.) Conversational analysis

2.) Ethnographic bases discourse analysis

3) Corpus based discourse analysis

4) Multimodal discourse analysis

5.) Genre analysis

6.) Critical discourse analysis

7.) Mediated Discourse analysis

ConceptS of Discourse Analysis are
1. Interpretive repertories: systematically related sets of terms that are often
used with stylistic and grammatical coherence and often organized
around one or more central metaphors.

2. Stake: A key issue for discourse analysis is how the analyses which it
produces in academic institutions can relate to critical activities in the
ordinary life.

3. Scripts: the concept of script is like that of stake as it helps us to

understand the ways in which participants attend to the normative
character of their actions. A script is a way of invoking the routine
character of described events in order to imply that they are features of
some (approved or disapproved) general pattern. Through this device,
participants assemble descriptions that attend to matters of
appropriateness, responsibility and blame.
Discourse analysis in Communication
Communication refers to many things: it is the process through which
individuals as well as institutions exchange information; it is the name for the
everyday activity in which people build, but sometimes blast apart, their
intimate, work, and public relationships; it is a routinely offered solution to
the problems engendered in societies in which people need to live and work
with others who differ from themselves;

For communication researchers, then, discourse analysis is the close study of

talk (or text) in context, a method that is to be distinguished from
ethnographic field approaches (informant interviewing and participant
observation) on the one hand, and laboratory and field-based coding studies
on the other. Discourse analysis is situated within an interpretive social
science metatheory that conceives of meanings as socially constructed, and
needing to be studied in ways that take that belief seriously.
Key Features of Discourse Analysis in
1. A preference for Speech over written texts

2. Audience design and strategy as key notions

3. Problematic situations as most interesting

4. Viewing talk as practical and moral action

Advantages of Discourse Analysis
•Understanding the function of language and discourse enables positive individual and
socialchange, therefore it presents a critical challenge to traditional theory, policy and practi
ce in many contexts;

• A reflective stance is incorporated wherein researchers cannot be neutral observers.

• It is used to study various situations and subject matters that may not be revealed by other

• It can help in understanding the function of language

• It can expose unspoken parts of human behaviour thereby revealing hidden discourses that have
been marginalized
disAdvantages of Discourse Analysis
• It may disrupt longstanding notions of selfhood, gender, autonomy,
identity, choice, and such disruption can be very disturbing;

• Each tradition has been critiqued, for example, conversation analysis

is said to be narrow .Foucaulldian discourse is said to be too broad;

• Lack of techniques or guidelines for the researchers to follow is a big


• Sometimes, meaning may not be fixed as language is open to negotiation,

change and interpretation.

• Due to a variety of options available for methodology, it becomes difficult

to choose which method to choose from as they all have their own
epistemological standings, procedures and concepts.
1. Morgan, A. 2010. Discourse analysis: An overview for the Neophyte Researcher. Journal of
Health and Social Care Improvement. Vol. 1:1-7.
2. Schiffrin, Tannen & Hamilton (2001). The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
3. David Silverman, (2001) Interpreting Qualitative Data 2nd Edition, SAGE Publications, pp 177-189
4. Edited by Teun A. Van Dijk, (2011) Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, 2nd Edition,
SAGE Publications pp 357-374
5. Potter, J. (1997) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice, SAGE Publications pp 144-160
6. Teogo, M. (2014). Understanding critical discourse analysis I qualitative research (pdf file). Available
from web address:
7. Fulcher, R 2010. Critical discourse analysis. London and New York. Longman
8. James, A. Anderson (2012), Media Research Methods: Understanding Metric and interpretative
9. Roger, D; & Joseph, R. (2011). Mass media research: An Introduction
Thank You
-Please Don’t Ask any Hard Questions-