THE DISCOURSE-HISTORICAL APPROACH
01: THE DISCOURSE-HISTORICAL APPROACH:
Nikolaos Gysis (1892)
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”) is the study of the past, specifically how it relates to humans. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about events.
Wodak’s approach is a discourse-historical perspective on CDA. In this approach the connection between fields of action, genres, discourses and texts is described and modelled, and context is understood mainly historically
02: INTRODUCING KEY CONCEPT AND TERMS:
We begin our chapter by introducing the notions of ideology, power and Critique
Ideology means a set of ideas that an economic or political system is based on
Power refers to the ability to control people or things
Critique literally means a statement showing disapproval of a set of ideas
Those three concepts are essential parts for every approach in CDA.
Hence, it is prominent to clarify how they are conceptualized in the DHA.
- Ideology for the DHA is seen as one sided perspective or world view composed of related mental representations, conviction, opinion, attitudes and evaluation shared by members of a specific social group.
- For the DHA, language is not powerful on its own – it is a means to gain and maintain power by the use ‘powerful’ people make of it. This explains why the DHA critically analyses the language use of those in power who have the means and opportunities to improve conditions.
The DHA follows a concept of critique which integrates three related aspects:
- Text or discourse-immanent critique aims at discovering inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes and dilemmas in text or discourse internal structure
- Socio-diagnostic critique is concerned with demystifying the persuasive or manipulative character of discursive practice (production and interpretation of the text)
- Future-related prospective critique seeks to contribute to the improvement of communication
It follows from our standing of critique that DHA should make the object under investigation and analysist’s own position transparent and justify theoretically why certain interpretation and readings of discursive event seem more valid than others.
Discursive event instance of language use, analysed as text, discursive practice, social practice” (Fairclough, 1993, p.138). Discursive event, thus, refers to text, discursive practice (production and interpretation of the text), and social practice (including situational, institutional and societal practice).
04: Other terms
We then proceed with the description of other terms significantly conceptualized in the DHA
In this chapter, on controversies on climate change,
- Discourse is considered to be related to a macro-topic and linked to the argumentation about validity claims such as truth and normative validity involving several actors who have different point of view.
- Texts are parts of discourses. Texts objectify linguistic action (Ehlich, 1983). Texts treat linguistic action as an object.
- Texts can be assigned to GENRES. A Genre may be characterized as a socially ratified way of using language in connection to a particular type of social activity (Fairclough, 1995).
- Intertextuality means that texts are linked to other texts. Such connections are established through explicit reference to a topic or main actor, by the transfer of main arguments from one text to the next.
- Recontextualization: the process of transferring given element to new contexts is labeled recontextualization.
- Interdiscursivity signifies that discourses are linked to each other in various ways. If we conceive of discourse as primarily topic related, we will observe that a discourse on climate change frequently refers to topics or subtopics of other discourses, such as finances or health. Discourses are often hybrid; new sub topic can be created at many points.
SEE FIGURE 4.1.
We represent the relationship between field of action, genres and macro topics in the area of political action as follows (figure 4.1).
Field of action indicates a segment of social reality which constitutes a (partial) frame of discourse. Different fields of action are defined by different function of discursive practices. For example, in the arena of political action, we differentiate among eight political functions as eight different fields and relate to or overlap with other discourses.
SEE FIGURE 4.2.
In this diagram,
Interdiscursivity is indicated by the two big overlapping ellipses.
Intertextual relationships are represented by simple bold arrows.
The assignment of texts to genres is signaled by simple arrows.
The topics to which a text refers are indicated by small ellipses with
simple dotted arrows.
The topical intersection of different texts is indicated by the overlapping
Finally, the specific intertextual relationship of the thematic reference
of one text to another is indicated by simple broken arrow.
05: Tools of Analysis
The DHA is three-dimentional:
- After having identified the specific contents or topics of specific discourses;
- Discursive strategies are investigated;
- Then linguistic means and specific, context-dependent linguistic realizations are examined.
06: Discursive strategies
There are several strategies which deserve special attention when analyzing a specific discourse and related text.
SEE Table 4.1
Heuristically (a method of solving problems by finding practical ways of dealing with them), we orientate ourselves to five questions:
- How are persons, objects, phenomena/events, processes and actions named and referred to linguistically?
- What characteristics, qualities and features are attributed to them?
- What arguments are employed in the discourse in question?
- From what perspective or point of view are these nominations, attributions and arguments expressed?
- Are the respective utterances articulated overtly, are they intensified or mitigated?
07: Approaching the analysis-DHA eight steps
A thorough DHA ideally follows an eight –stage program. Typically, the eight
steps are implemented recursively (involving a process that is applied
08: Analyzing discourses on cc and global warming-DHA eight
step 1: The overarching (very important) research question on global
warming can be approached in various ways:
[in ordinary language use],
- Climate change means global warming
- Climate change sometimes denotes global cooling toward a new ice age
[in scientific terms],
- Climate change refers to the change of the medial annual temperature.
Depending on what data are accessible (by observation, audio-visual recording, interview, research in archives) and on how much data can be analyzed within the respective research project, a range of empirical data could be collected.
09: Analyzing discourses on cc and global warming-DHA eight
When preparing the corpus for analysis, the collected data are downsized according to specific criteria such as frequency, representativity, (proto)typicality, intertextual or interdiscursive scope/influence, salience, uniqueness and redundancy. If it proves necessary, oral data have to be transcribed according to the conventions determined by the research questions
The research question could now be specified with regard to the following
- Global warming is perceived as being undisputed by the discourse participants or not
- Climate change is seen as a natural process or as co-caused by human beings.
The research question has to consider opposing political accusations of abuse and manipulation, and alternative appeals for action. Hence, a possible point of departure for further elaboration of our research question could be the analysis of controversial positions. As critical discourse analysts, we describe and assess such contradictory positions and their persuasive character on the basis of principles of rational argumentation and with regard to underlying manipulative strategies.
10: Analyzing discourses on cc and global warming-DHA eight
In Table 4.2,
The right column next to the text lists of themes (‘T’ stands for ‘theme’) contained in the five questions and Klaus’ first answer.
The third column point to plausible (reasonable) argumentation schemes (e.g. topoi) and fallacious (wrong) argumentation schemes (e.g. fallacies)
Within argumentation theory, ‘topoi’ can be described as parts of argumentation which belong to the required premises (the basis for a reasonable line of argument). They are the formal or content-related warrants or ‘conclusion rule’ which connect the argument(s) with the conclusion, the claim. As such, they justify the transition from the argument(s) to the conclusion.
Reisgl and Wodak analyze this text (see pp. 102-109) by focusing on three aspects according to the three dimensions of the DHA and five strategies presented in table 4.1:
- First, they identify the main discourse topics of the text, extrapolating them from the themes (listed in the second column)
- Then, they focus on the main nomination and predication strategies to be found in Klaus’ answers.
- Third, they focus on the argumentation and more specifically on the principal claims as well as on topoi and fallacies employed to justify these claims (listed in the third column).
see table 4.3. on pp.112-113
Reisgl and Wodak provide an overview of the basic analytical tools for the specific analysis of discourses about climate change by adapting the heuristic question and strategies presented in table 4.3 on pp. 112-113 (the right column contains some examples of the text from table 4.2).
(heuristic: a method of solving the problems by finding practical ways of dealing with them)
Identifying the main discourse topics is based on generalizing the established list of theme from Table 4.2. Figure 4.3 presents the main discourse topics and the three fields of political action in which the text is primarily located.
See Table 4.4. on pp.115-116
Only a few aspects of nomination and predication can be addressed in this pilot study; the six most important social actors who are discursively constructed in this text are ‘I’, ‘We’, ‘policymakers’, ‘environmentalists’, ‘developing countries’, and ‘people’. The most salient predications relating to these actors are listed in table 4.4. on pp.115-116).
In the present case, this step would lead to general descriptions of the
discourse on climate change in respect of:
Reisgl and wodak’s critique is based on ethical principles such as democratic norms, human rights and criteria of rational argumentation. It points to intended biases in representations (especially media coverage) and to contradictory and manipulative relationships between dicourses and power structure.
The application of analytical results stem from the critique. The application should not only consist of the scholarly publication of the results. In addition, our insights should also be made accessible to the ‘general public’