What is DA?

Discourse analysis grew out of concerning questions regarding the sociology of scientific knowledge and was interested in exploring the social processes that informed the ways in which the scientific community made knowledge claims as objective or factual.

Early discourse work is credited to Gilbert and Mulkay who noticed that talk is full of contradictions and variability. Thus key features of discourse analysis (DA) are that it focuses on the functional orientation of language use and acknowledges variability in accounts. It also examines broad regularities in the way in which such accounts are constructed.

Discourse analysts claim that the language we use and the way we use it is not determined by an objective set of properties of the events. They argue that language is performative in the sense that people ‘do’ things with words, such as complain, invite, question, account, justify and so forth. There are many different types of discourse analysis, with different epistemological and ontological assumptions. These include critical discourse analysis, Bhaktian discourse analysis, discursive psychology, and Foucauldian discourse analysis, among others. We recommend you consult a textbook for further information.

Our answer to this question is based on the materials found in the book by Robin Wooffitt. You may find this a useful reference:

  • Wooffitt, R. (2005). Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis: A Comparative and Critical Introduction. London: SAGE Publications.

Other useful references for discourse analysis include:

  • Fairclough, N. (1999). Linguistic and intertextual analysis within discourse analysis within discourse analysis. (pp: 183 – 212). In A. Jaworski, and N. Coupland, (Eds). The discourse reader. London: Routledge.
  • Potter, J. (1996). Representing Reality: Discourse, Rhetoric and Social Construction. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Potter, J. (2011). Discursive psychology and the study of naturally occurring talk. In D. Silverman (Ed). Qualitative Research (Third Edition). (pp: 187 - 207). London: SAGE Publications.
  • Willig, C. (1999). Applied Discourse Analysis: Social and Psychological Interventions. Buckingham: Open University Press.

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