Different aspects of Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis and society

Different aspects of Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical discourse analysis  – an interdisciplinary approach for studying communication in a socio-cultural context; establishes links “between the signs, meanings and social and historical conditions that define the semiotic structure of discourse” (Roger Fowler 1991: 5), explicates the determinism of text structures in social, cognitive, political, historical and cultural contexts. The main representatives of critical discourse analysis are Pierre Bourdieu, Toyn Van Dyck, Bret Dallinger, Ruth Vodak, Gunter Kress, Roger Fowler, Norman Fairclough.

The interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity of critical discourse analysis is determined by the integrative goal of research in the context of the KDA: to identify “the ideological functions of the language in the production, reproduction and change of social structures, connections, subjects” (Mayr 2004: 5), to reveal the nature of “power and dominance”, as well as the importance of discourse in their production; to analyze “the opaque and at the same time obvious relationships of domination, discrimination, power and control as expressed through language” (Wodak 1995: 204). Thus, the language is perceived and studied as one of the forms of social practice, which affects the social structure and, at the same time, experiences its influence: any social realities are realized and constructed in discourse and through discourse.
Such a comprehensive goal allows critical discourse analysis to integrate the categories and concepts of social semiotics, the pragmatics of rhetoric, the conversion analysis of system-functional linguistics, interactive sociolinguistics, the cognitive-linguistic approach to the study of metaphor, text linguistics, and discursive social psychology.
In addition to interdisciplinary specificity, the critique principle is another no less important characteristic of critical discourse analysis, namely: critical discourse analysis is defined not so much as a direction of discursive research, but as a critical perspective of any research related to the role of language in the transfer of knowledge. Critical linguists show the “abuse” of power inherent in the text, the result of which is the “implantation” of stereotypes of inequality of certain groups.

The interdisciplinary nature and critical perspective of QA are interconnected, since the concept of “criticism” forms the ideological foundation that allows integrating research principles, methods and techniques of various directions of discursive research. In this case, the difference between critical discourse analysis and other schools of discourse analysis is, in our opinion, an obligatory stage of explaining data (obtained using various analysis tools) – involving social theory to identify the ideological basis of interpretative procedures.

For example, analyzing the speech event “lesson”, conversion analysis does not explain why the institutional roles of “teacher” and “students” are realized with numerous deviations from their categorical characteristics. In particular, the “omission” in the discourse “lesson” of such teacher’s speech moves as “assessment of student knowledge” and “criticism for lack of preparation”; the irregularity and “non-normativeness” of the students ’response / reaction component (inadequate student responses in the form of laughter, unwillingness to answer in general, etc.) will be interpreted by conversion analysts in the aspect of the teacher and students fulfilling their discursive roles (through making moves in the interaction) and not fulfilling their “Categorical” (institutional) roles, which is manifested, in particular, in numerous interactive “failures”. In the same time,


In the sixties and seventies of our century, many scientists began to adhere to a critical perspective in the study of language. Among the first was the French researcher Pesche [Pecheux 1992], who developed the ideas of the Russian theoretician Bakhtin (Voloshinov), who as early as the thirties formulated the thesis on the integration of language and social processes. At the end of the seventies, a group of linguists from the M. Halliday school at the University of East Anglia began to use the term “critical linguistics” to study the use of language in various institutes [see, for example: Fowler et al. 1979; Kress, Hodge 1979]. Kress and Hodge postulated the existence of strong and pervasive connections between the linguistic structure and social structure, arguing that discourse cannot exist without social meanings. These authors sharply opposed modern trends in pragmatics (for example, the theory of speech acts) and quantitative sociolinguistics of U. Labov. Since 1979, this general approach has been refined, expanded, undergone changes and has been re-applied by other linguists, adhering to other linguistic traditions. However, many believe that the relationship between language and society is complex and multidimensional and therefore requires interdisciplinary research. Scientists who develop the problems of sociolinguistics, formal linguistics, social psychology and literary criticism have made a great contribution to the development of a new direction and have specified areas of analysis such as racism, discrimination on ethnic or gender grounds.


The main issues that determine critical linguistic research include the following. How does the naturalization of ideology fit in? What discursive strategies make control legitimate and social order “natural”? How is power expressed in language? How are consent, acceptance and legislative consolidation of dominance implemented? Who has access to power and control tools? What power tools can be accessed? Who is discriminated against and how? How do you understand certain types of discourse? Who is the subject of understanding and what are the results of this process? To answer these very complex and extensive questions, we consider it necessary to formulate the following general characteristics, goals and principles,

1. Political commitment.

Exposing inequalities and injustices, depriving ideologies of their naturalness, revealing relationships of domination and power and communicating these relationships to those who suffer from oppression – these are goals that proponents of critical linguistics consider desirable and possible to realize. “Subjects of research” cannot be considered simply “objects”. Specific interests and values ​​determine the choice of those subjects that are analyzed by critical linguistics. Proponents of critical linguistics deny the existence of an “objective” interpretation and consider it appropriate to open at least their normative orientations. This is one of the reasons why critical linguistics is often blamed for politicization: just because

2. Problem-oriented research .

Critical linguistics and a critical analysis of discourse examine linguistic behavior in everyday everyday situations of direct social significance (institutional discourse, media discourse, school books, minority issues, all types of discrimination, etc.). Critical linguistics can be defined as a problem-oriented discipline, because its purpose is not to contribute to a particular discipline, paradigm, school or theory of discourse, but to address pressing social problems that, as a result of analysis, will be better understood and possibly started decide.

3. The relationship between language and society .

Critical linguistics considers language and society not as separate, but as dialectically interconnected entities. Language characteristics are sometimes strategically obscured due to certain ideological attitudes on the part of the authors of the texts, due to power structures at the macro and micro levels of society, and also due to historical intertextuality. Linguistic signs (understood as language in action) at any level are the result of social processes [cf .: Kress 1993] and, therefore, are motivated by the unity of form and meaning. The powers that be (elites in society, see: [van Dijk 1993a]) have more extensive and easier access to communication, as well as greater choice in communicative behavior.

4. Interdisciplinary research . 

Social phenomena are very complex and cannot be covered by only one discipline. Sociological, psychological, cognitive, political, psychoanalytic and other models should be applied, if necessary, but not in an arbitrary order, but in such a way that they reflect the status, origin and interests of the relevant theories and categories

.5. Inclusion of historical perspective . 

The fact that social processes are dynamic rather than static should be reflected in the theory, methodology and interpretation of data. History at the micro level of specific interactions of individuals or institutions, at the mesoscale of group interactions, or at the macro level of the history of discursive changes is an essential component of critical linguistics both theoretically and descriptively [Fairclough, Kress 1993]. Each discourse and each text is associated with others (intertextuality) synchronously and diachronously and should be considered in connection with other types of discourse.

6. Discourse as an action .

Discourse should be considered as a form of social action, always determined by values ​​and social norms, conventions (as natural ideologies) and social practice, always limited and influenced by power structures and historical processes

.7. The social construction of meanings (meanings) .

Values ​​are the result of the interaction between readers / listeners and authors of texts. These values ​​are always subject to more or less rigid regulatory rules (for example, generic rules) and power relations that arise as a result of such interaction. Many conscious and unconscious motives and procedures for planning texts turn out to be essential for the creation and perception of texts, and this leads to the emergence of expressed and hidden meanings, cognitive and emotional aspects of discourse.

8. Addressing socio-political practice . 

The results of a critical study should be of interest not only for academic science, but also translate into proposals for practical implementation, for example, as principles of non-discriminatory language behavior, improve the availability of television and radio news, etc.

9. In search of a critical theory of language.

An accurate linguistic description of the data is necessary, both quantitative and qualitative analysis should be carried out, depending on the genre and type of text. Various linguistic analysis tools should be used (social semiotics, the theory of speech acts, the theory of argumentation, etc.), depending on what can help more in explaining the data. At the same time, the main provisions and methodological base of the corresponding linguistic theories should be transparent. Ideally, linguistic theory and methodology should integrate language and society, and this will lead to going beyond the limits of existing eclectic procedures, as a result of which it will be possible to address the main questions: “What are the boundaries of signs – how do we choose units for analysis? How can I find out What interpretation is consistent with the nature of the facts? How exactly are macro- and micro-objects connected (for example, society and language signs)? How do we take into account the relationship between verbal and non-verbal elements of the language? ”



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