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Module III: Critical discourse analysis


11-12 juin 2012


Dr. Fenneke Reysoo, IHEID


Philomena Essed, Prof. Critical Race, Gender and Leadership Studies, Université d’Antioch, Californie

Rosemary Moeketsi, Prof., Executive Dean, College of Human Sciences, UNISA, Afrique du Sud



Discourse as dialogue, conversation or text has been a pertinent area of research in linguistics, social psychology, communication, and in media studies. But also philosophy and the broader social sciences have claimed discourse as an area of research. Discourse, as a social concept, particularly in relation to knowledge and power gained prominence through Foucault and other philosophers in the 1980s and has since been adopted throughout the social sciences.

Discourse analysis

Discourse analysis is strongly grounded in linguistics starting from Transformational Generative Grammar by scholars such as Noam Chomsky (1954, Householder 1959, Katz and Fodor 1964). Discourse Analysis, both as  a discipline and as a method for empirical research, integrates context as indispensable aspect. Discourse can be produced in oral, textual and visual forms. Human beings speak, write or make gestures with a certain purpose in mind (or sometimes not so consciously). Successful discourse therefore is when an utterance is made and is understood in the sense that the speaker meant. In discourse, therefore, the following questions are pertinent: who, when, where, why, what, how (cf Hymes 1967ff). The context of discourse, also known as its universe, is one of the key elements of discourse production and interpretation. The study of context shows that text, talk and visual presentations often mean more that they actually say on the surface.

When Discourse Analysis meets Critical Analysis

One particular interdisciplinary area is Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) which focuses on discourse and power and in particular on the discursive reproduction of social inequality. It can also show how social relations, including social inequality can be challenged discursively. Critical Discourse Analysis has been used extensively in the study of gender relations, ethnic relations, racism studies and so on. People’s values and sense of self are often expressed through discourse. The discursive construction of gender identities is a case in point. Critical Discourse Analysis reveals underlying meanings through the analysis of statements, documents, or stories.

Critical Discourse Analysis, though emerging from the field of language has also many applications that are accessible and useful for students in the broader area of the humanities and in the social sciences. In fact, Critical Discourse Analysis is an interdisciplinary field.

The range of Critical Discourse Analysis is too large to capture its full meaning in the two-day workshop. Participants who really want to specialize in Critical Discourse Analysis may want to pursue more extended training. But they can get a good impression by browsing, for instance, through the journals of Discourse and Society and Critical Discourse Studies. Themodule is meant to trigger initial interest in this area and to explore, together with participants, how CDA can be useful in their own research.

This will be a WORKshop. We intend to introduce participants to critical discourse analysis by way of its practical application.


Genève, IHEID


In preparation participants are expected to write a two-page (1000 words max) statement about their research in which they express their initial thinking about the usefulness of Critical Discourse Analysis in advancing their research. The statements are a basis for further discussion during the workshop. For purposes of examples and inspiration  we suggest a handful of articles as background readings and discussion materials.

Please submit your 2 page statement by May 27 to:



Délai d'inscription 07.06.2012
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