Monday, November 30, 2009

Ruth Wodak, Lancaster University, UK - Introducing CDA and the Discourse-Historical Approach: Media in times of Political Crisis

Ruth Wodak calls CDA "a mixed bag of things." Not only are there several types of CDA, these types are also in a constant flux. They also have different histories. CDA is primarily a linguistic enterprise. CDA is a way of analyzing intricate social phenomena, analyzing problems.
European Media in Crisis. Context is important. There is so much you don't know when you just look at a picture.

Media and/in politics, Media constructing politics? Bourdieu: Media and Politics. A struggle between field or sets of power relation. Whose side gets more attention? Those, who deal professionally in making things explicit and proccing discourses - sociologists, historians, politicians, journalists, etc - have two things in common…" (Bourdieu, 2005, 37).
• Complex processes are reduced to certain images.
• Many other accompanying, often contradictory, processes and positioning are swept under the carpet.
• History is reduced to static events captured by images and the agenda setting by journalistic news production.
• In this way, several fields in society relate to each other and are linked in complex ways and serve differing (also economic) interests.

EMEDIATE (EU project) 1956 - Treaty of Rome, 2006 - Mohammad cartoon affair. Aims: media reporting, redefining the relevance role of the crisis - the construction of political narratives in/through media. A crisis is disruptive, but allows a transcendence of boundaries. European values and identity. Eight different European crises. How where these events described in news media in the different countries?

Step 1: Contextualisation, learn as much as possible about the crisis/event
Step 2: Quatify the empirical material, corpus analysis
Step 3: In-depth qualitative analysis of media discourse (rhetoric and argumentation, discursive strategies)

Example: 2003 Iraq - hypothesized as the crucial point for breaking the national traditions in representing and interpreting Europe

Challenges to their own ideas of CDA: Linking research questions to data - operationalisation of problem-oriented research, characterizing genres, specifying "discourse about x", linking text to genre and discourse, dealing with large data corpora, finding "typical examples", avoiding "cherry-picking".

Ruth Wodak identifies six different types of meanings of discourse, such as a field, institutionalized, metaphor, language-specific meanings etc.

"CDA highlights the substantively linguistic and discursive nature of social relations of power in contemporary societies. This is partly the matter of how power relations are exercised and negotiated in discourse. It is fruitful to look at both "power in discourse," "power of discourse" and "power over discourse" in these dynamic terms (Wodak 1996). DHA. Three levels of critique: Text or discourse immanent critique - discovering inconsistencies, (self-)contradictions, paradoxes and dilemmas in the text-internal or discourse-internal structures and relate it to the context. Which reading is available?

Socio-diagnostic critique - demystifying the manifest or latent persuasive or manipulative character of discursive practices
Discourse implies patterns, text is specific and genres are conventionalized ways of writing or talking. Texts are dialogic which means that there are multiple readings.

Recontextualisation. Contextualization - to provide a context with some discursive element, decontext… to take an element out of its context, recontext… to put an element into a new context.

Four-Level Model of "context" - The immediate, language or text internal co-text; The intertextual and interdiscursive relationship between utterances, texts, genres and discourses; the extralinguistic social/sociaological variables and institutional frames of a specific "context of situation"; the broader socio-political and historical contexts, to which the discursive practices are embedded in and related.

Discursive strategies: focus on construction of (group) identities in different contexts, discourses and genres; types (inter alia): strategies of national identity-building, strategies of self and other presentation.

Analyzing: How are persons named and referred to linguistically? What traits, characteristics, qualities and features are attributed to them? By means of what arguments and argumentation schemes do specific persons or social groups try to justify and legitimize the exclusion of others or inclusion of some? From what perspective or points of view are these labels, attributions and arguments expressed? Are the respective utterances articulated overtly, are they even intensified Are they expressed overtly?

Discursive strategies: Predication/nomination, referential, perspectivation, argumentation, intensification/mitigation
Topoi: Topos of burdening, realty, numbers, history, authority, threat, definition, justice and urgency
Argumentation schema: promise, warrant, conclusion
Context where argumentative devices are used.

Conclusions: Logic of the media as a separate field (Bourdieu), media construct/simplify realities, crisis events cease to be elements. Such simplified visions of reality are re-used to create new myth (Barthes).
Perspectives for CDA: Broad focus necessary to compare global/national/regional/local trends; interdisciplinarity/object-orientation is important, historical focus necessary.

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