Johnstone, B. Discourse Analysis. “What Is Discourse Analysis” – Chapter 1

Johnstone, Barbara. Discourse Analysis. Chapter One – What Is Discourse Analysis?

Discourse analysis as performing analytical process in a particular way – “examining aspects of the structure and function of language in use” (4). Different divisions in how discourse analysis is performed – deconstruction based on speakers, paragraphs, topic use, subject/predicate relationship. However, often look at breadth of connected texts and conversations, syntax of a sentence, how conversations occur – to use “talk” to understand cultural contexts and interpretive patterns that are sourced from these exchanges. “Discourse analysts have also described external social and material influences that effect changes in patterns of language use, influences such as economic change, geographic mobility, and power relations, and they have studied patterns of variation in how people do things with talk such as making lists, constructing arguments, and telling stories” (6). Roles of language in interaction, identity, socialization, and ‘performance’. DA transcripts include audio/video recordings, written documents, texts of oral tradition, printouts of online communications – sometimes only words, sometimes pictures, gestures, gaze, etc. DA asks – “Why is this stretch of discourse the way it is? Why is it no other way? Why these particular words in this particular order?” (9) – actors and audiences of text, motivations of creating and sharing it, what media it is in (and how that impacted production/sharing),.

Tenets of DA (10):

“Discourse is shaped by the world, and discourse shapes the world. Discourse is shaped by language, and discourse shapes language. Discourse is shaped by participants, and discourse shapes participants. Discourse is shaped by prior discourse, and discourse shapes the possibilities for future discourse. Discourse is shaped by its medium, and discourse shapes the possibilities of its medium. Discourse is shaped by purpose, and discourse shapes possible purposes.”

Contextualization of data is incredibly important – what else is going on in the world, in the author’s set of messages? DA as descriptive, and/or critical – critical to unified description (meaning), and critical to status quo


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