Fairclough, N. 2003. Analysing Discourse: Analysis for Social Research.

Fairclough, Norman. 2003. Analysing Discourse: Analysis for Social Research.” New York: Routledge.

Language as critically connected with other portions of social life, contributing to and deriving from it. Effective discourse analysis examines both deconstructed meaning of language as well as the process of language creation and distribution.

Texts as written or printed – transcripts of interviews, language use, but also images?)

Discourse as how texts (or wider applications) become interconnected with social life. Discourse analyses as not only demonstrating and tracing these interconnections, but identifying the meaning and outcomes of what is assumed within conversations, messages, etc.

Discursive change in late capitalism – impacts of neoliberal development within language and textual use – neoliberalism as the restructuring and reorganization of social relations to accommodate globalizing capitalism – seemingly characterized by attacks on social welfare, middle classes, political debate, and weakened political democracy (in favor of divided individualism, mass-elite dichotomies).

Use of Systemic Functional Linguistics, furthered by Michael Halliday (Halliday 1978) – which is different than Chomskian or critical discourse analyses – instead, our study of language focuses in on the social character of the texts, situating the texts beyond their interpretation in one discipline, but instead in a transdisciplinary way – qualitative, with many dimensions and analyses being derived from one text, or across many texts

Texts are elements of social events – they bring about change – in knowledge, value, belief, attitudes –media effects as shifting of identities, starting political debates, describing state of social affairs, etc. However, this is not directly causal, and texts may not have same regularity/exposure to offer media effects — however, no less strong. “Texts can have causal effects without them necessarily being regular effects, because many other factors in the context determine whether particular texts have such effects, and can lead to a particular text having a variety of effects, for instance on different interpreters (Fairclough et al 2002)” (8).

Texts as incomplete – we cannot offer a complete and definitive analysis of a text – as our analysis of meanings, realities come from our own knowledge of texts, their creation, their intent — always partial, always more to be analyzed and added. Textual analyses are always biased, can never be totally objective as we are ultimately subjecting our “reads” through subjective creatures (ourselves).

Texts as elements of social events – representative of social structures and social practices; must be situated in relation to other external events and texts (the process of intertextualization) – linking our assumptions about the analyzed text to other external texts and social contexts.

Disagree – Fairclough disses social constructionism as it supposedly is more idealist than realist – he argues that despite social construction, there are realities of the social world that impact the discourses that we construct — arguing instead for construal, instead of construction. However, social construction does not necessarily mean that there are no realities, just that our realities may be impacted by the multiplex identities and creations that structure our social institutions.

Discourses as spreading ideologies and ideological effects – “the effects of texts in inculcating and sustaining or changing ideologies” (9 see also Van Dijk 1998). “Ideologies are representations of aspects of the world which can be shown to contribute to establishing, maintaining and changing social relations of power, domination and exploitation” (9).

Chapter 2

Texts not free but socially constrained, kind of — an interconnectedness of the structure/agency dialectic.

Orders of discourse (Chouliaraki and Fairclough 1999, Fairclough 1992) are networks of social practices (within language) where a discourse/text can be situated – a type of social organization and order for language use and variety.

Social practices, then, are ways to articulate discourse, within the scope of other social elements – examples: action/interaction, social relations, persons, material creation/distribution… a way of developing and distributing texts, defining their place within social worlds.

Texts have ideational, interpersonal, and textual functions: “That is, texts simultaneously represent aspects of the world (the physical world, the social world, the mental world); enact social relations between participants in social events and the attitudes, desires and values of participants; and coherently and cohesively connect parts of texts together, and connect texts with their situational contexts” (26-27 see also Halliday 1978, 1994) – can encourage action, represent ideas, or identify groups/establish boundaries/offer values

Texts are “mediated” through larger social institutions (media, etc.) – which help disseminate ideas (Luhmann 2000); regards how meaning moves and develops (Silverstone 1999), often in relation to chains of other texts – however, these social institutions are also intertwined and co-constructing of meanings, processes. Interdiscursivity – the “dialogue” and processes that combine/create discourses that may be reliant or in discussion/response with/to each other.

We are examining SEMANTIC relations – “meanings between words and longer expressions, between elements of clauses, between clauses and between sentences, and over larger stretches of text” (36 see also Allan 2001, Lyons 1977).

Chapter 3

Texts can be written and analyzed in terms of attribution (who said it, where, why), but also may encompass texts and inferences made without mentioned attributions, based on assumptions – “presuppositions, logical implications or entailments, and implicatures” (40). Intertextuality has shifted in terms of how the authors address and implicate other interlocuters – and our taken-for-granted assumptions may be divided out based upon identity – our knowledges are not universal! A question of interpretation, then comes from hegemony – who has power over dominant ideas, expressions, what are the outcomes/meanings of the messages and the possession of this dominance?

Texts become interactive, then – offering (Giddens 1993) meaning, moral ordering, and a means of power. Bahktin (1986a)’s notion of dialogicality – where dialogization of a discourse is performed through de-privileging it, bringing up competing discourses, relating it to larger social contexts. Performed through attribution, quote — not dialogical when it is assumed! However, this “disembedding” of Giddens 1991 (where we work to remove texts from their social contexts for analysis) may prove impossible (in kx^’s opinion) – how do we analyze for objective social context when we are immersed within these said contexts?

How to frame, then, a quote? Framing requires questions of how to present the “voice” of the textual author, in what order, and how they relate to other text’s voices.

Assumptions come with value, existence, and predictive powers – use them carefully.

Chapter 4

Discourse can vary in direction and mediation: two-way, mediated (telephone, email, etc.); two-way non-mediated (face-to-face conversation); one way non-mediated (lecture); one-way mediated (print, radio, internet, film) — (see Martin 1992).

Arguments, a type of discursive debate, can be dialogical or not, mediated or not. Narrative structures of discourse, on the other hand, offer a “story” out of the text – where stakeholders become characters and events become plot points.

Chapter Five

Semantic discourse analysis, in many cases, examines causality – when events are supposed to encourage (or are reported to have) certain outcomes. These may take the form of offering problems with solutions (Hoey 2001). Some are additive, elaborative, conditional, constrastive, descriptive – all of which are dependent on particular value assumptions (what’s worthy to be said?)

Chapter 6

Wernick (1991)’s notion of a “promotional culture” – where informative texts become also burdened with the function of promoting the product/idea the text is describing/informing upon – one that represents, advocates, anticipates (the adoption of) whatever it refers. Related to the “aestheticization of everyday life” (Chouliaraki and Fairclough 1999, Featherstone 1991) – where texts are noted for their promotional value (in a consumer culture), but also for their physical appearance and regard for design.

Chapter 7

Foucault 1984, in regards to defining discourse: “[…] treating it sometimes as the general domain of all statements, sometimes as an individualizable group of statements, and sometimes as a regulated practice that accounts for a number of statements” (page number?) – his work is not in the detail of texts, but the “rules” that are assigned to and constructing of texts.

“Different discourses are different perspectives on the world, and they are associated with the different relations people have to the world, which in turn depends on their positions in the world, their social and personal identities, and the social relationships in which they stand to other people. Discourses not only represent the world as it is (or rather seen to be), they are also projective, imaginaries, representing possible worlds which are different from the actual world, and tied in to projects to change the world in particular directions. The relationships between different discourses are one element of the relationships between different people – they may complement one another, compete with one another, one can dominate others, and so forth. Discourses constitute part of the resources which people deploy in relating to one another – keeping separate from one another, cooperating, competing, dominating – and in seeking to change the ways in which they relate to one another” (124). That is, discourses are not just about creating stable and shared messages, but also forming representations of how language works to sustain social structures (and vice versa?).

Chapter 8

Texts (reporting on social events) can offer descriptions/analyses of activity, persons (with histories, values, beliefs, etc.), social relations, objects, technologies and processes, times and places, language (its use and attributions). Social events (the subject of texts) can be concrete, generalized, and abstract (which vary in the focus and number of the events they describe/cover).

Metaphors can be non-linguistic, but act as entities that are associated with subjects, objects, etc. and have representational capacity.

Chapter 9

Styles as the discoursal demonstration of identity, belonging – is dialectical, as identities are built into discourses, and discourse help frame identities. Styles can be manifested linguistically, through embodied gestures, and “internalized” to help formulate social identity and personality.

Chapter 10

Modality as the implication for action – helps to structure personal and social identities – as what you commit yourself to is part of who you are and the values you are representing. Some of these may be sourced in inquiry, statement, request, or command – based in conflict, information, evaluation, emotion, assumptions.

Conclusion – Questions to Consider in Textual Analysis (All questions quoted)

Social Events: What social event, and what chain of social events, is the text a part of? What social practice or network of social practices can the events be referred to, be seen as framed within? Is the text part of a chain or network of texts?


Intertextuality: Of relevant other texts/voices, which are included, which are significantly excluded? Where other voice are included [wtf]? Are they attributed, and if so, specifically or non-specifically? Are attributed voiced directly reported (quoted), or indirectly reported? How are other voiced textured in relation to the authorial voice, and in relation to each other?

Assumptions: What existential, propositional, or value assumptions are made? Is there a case for seeing any assumptions as ideological?


Discourses: What discourses are drawn upon in the text, and how are they textured together? Is there a significant mixing of discourses? What are the features that characterize the discourses which are drawn upon […]?

Representation of social events: What elements of represented social events are included or excluded, and which elements are the most salient? How abstractly or concretely are social events represented? How are processes represented? What are the predominant process types […]? Are there instances of grammative (kx^ visual too?) metaphor in the representation of processes? How are social actors represented [kx^ active, passive, personal, impersonal, specific, generic, named, classified]? How are time, space, and the relation between ‘space-times’ represented?

Styles: What styles are drawn upon in the text, and how are they textured together? Is there a significant mixing of styles? What are the features that characterize the styles that are drawn upon (‘body language’, pronunciation and other phonological features, vocabulary, metaphor, modality or evaluation – see immediately below for the latter two)?


Evaluation: To what values (in terms of what is desirable or undesirable) do authors commit themselves? How are values realized- as evaluative statement […] statements with affective mental processes, or assumed values? (pulled from 192-194).

Theoretical Orientations

Discourse into social practices in three ways – as part of a social activity, as representations of practice (of others, of reflexive selves, etc.) through recontextualizations for use by other social actors (Chouliaraki and Fairclough 1999) and self-construction, and through the constitution of identities – organizing boundaries, actions, and hierarchies (kx^).

Discourses as imaginaries can offer new ways of being, new identities – with new actors or practices involved in discursive dialogue, discourse creation.


Allan, K. 2001. Natural Language Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Chouliaraki, Lilie and Norman Fairclough. 1999. Discourse in Late Modernity – Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Fairclough, N. 1992. Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fairclough, N., R. Jessop, and A. Sayer. 2002. “Critical Realism and Semiosis.” Journal of Critical Realism 5(1): 2-10.

Featherstone, M. 1991. Consumer Culture and Postmodernism. London: Sage.

Foucault, M. 1984. “The Order of Discourse,” in M. Shapiro (ed.) The Language of Politics. Oxford: Blackwell (page numbers?)

Giddens, A. 1991. Modernity and Self Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Giddens, A. 1993. New Rules of Sociological Method, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Halliday, M. 1978. “The Sociosemantic Nature of Discourse,” in Language of Social Semiotic. London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. 1994. An Introduction to Functional Grammar, 2nd edition. London: Edward Arnold.

Hoey, M. 2001. Textual Interaction. London: Routledge.

Luhmann, N. 2000. The Reality of Mass Media. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Lyons, J. 1977. Semantics, 2 volumes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin, J. 1992. English Text. Amsterdamn: John Benjamins.

Silverstone, R. 1999. Why Study the Media? London: Sage.

Van Dijk, T. 1998. Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage.

Wernick, A. 1991. Promotional Culture. London: Sage.


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