Monday, December 2, 2013

Project methodologies

Attitudes towards confessional and sexual minorities in the discourse of the media in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from a historical perspective 

Foucault’s genealogical discourse analysis is a methodological approach used to study discourse in order to reveal power/knowledge networks (Carabine 2001: 275). “Genealogy is concerned with describing the procedures, practices, apparatuses and institutions involved in the production of discourses and knowledges, and their power effects” (p. 276), as well as with tracing the developments of the power/knowledge/discourse triad from a historical perspective. It is based upon the following assumptions: power operates and circulates at every level of a society; normalization [discursive construction of norm] is one of the ways of deploying power; power/knowledge/discourse are intricately intermeshed; social context and relations have to be accounted for in order to situate the power/knowledge realm; discourses are constitutive; discourses have a normalizing role and regulatory outcomes; discourses are uneven, contradictory and contested; knowledge, truth and discourse are socially constructed and historically specific (Carabine 2001: 280). Doing genealogical discourse analysis involves identifying themes, categories and objects of discourse, looking for evidence of an inter-relationship between discourses, identifying the employed discursive strategies and techniques, looking for absences and silences, looking for resistances and counter-discourses, and identifying the effects of the discourse, all against the background of historical context (p. 281). 
Foucault's approach to discourse analysis and his theory of sexuality (1990) have inspired an analysis of media discourse on homosexuality in an Eastern European country - namely, in Estonia (Kurvinen 2007). This study follows the development of discourse on homosexuality from medical discourse (discussion concerning AIDS, homosexuality as a disease) to sexualized discourse (sex and homosexual, especially lesbian, relationships as a "trendy" topic).
Applied to: parliament discourse since 1991 (spoken political discourse); press discourse (newspapers) since 1991 (written media discourse).

Reisigl & Wodak’s (2009) discourse-historical analysis is a three-dimensional approach: after (1) having identified the specific contents or topics of the discourse under investigation it analyses (2) discourse strategies employed in it. Next, (3) linguistic means (as types) and the particular context-dependent linguistic realizations (as tokens) are examined (p. 93).
Discourse strategies that this strand of DHA is interested in include:
1. referential strategies – how persons, objects, phenomena, processes, events and activities are named, incl. metaphoric depiction;
2. predicational strategies – what qualities are assigned to them;
3. argumentation strategies – presenting conclusions as resulting from facts;
4. pespectivation strategies – negotiating perspectives or points of view;
5. intensification/mitigation strategies – overt/covert articulations of opinions.
In DHA, an important role is played by the temporal aspect of socio-political context: specific periods of time relating to important discursive events must be identified (for example, in an analysis of climate change discourse – international summits or publications of reports by IPCC, p. 98). Data coming from these specific periods of time may then be compared diachronically.
Applied to: diachronic analysis of texts from three distinct historical periods: shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, during the negotiations with the European Union, and during the world-wide financial crisis after joining the EU.

Fairclough’s interactional critical discourse analysis identifies social problems mediated in discourse (Fairclough 2001: 236). It consists of 1) linguistic/semiotic analysis of text, 2) interdiscursive analysis of interaction, and 3) social analysis of interaction (p. 240). Text analysis covers, for example, whole-text language organization – the narrative, argumentative, etc. structure of the text – and grammatical and semantic features of the text, such as transitivity, representations of agency, mood, modality, voice, choice of vocabulary, collocations, metaphors, etc. (2001: 242; 2003) as means of representing, relating, identifying and valuing. Interdiscursive analysis identifies genres and discourses that are drawn upon in the text and analyses how they work together, are mixed and locally transformed (2001: 243). Social analysis investigates social interests or purposes of the text, e.g. “sustaining relations of authority between elites or experts and the rest of society, or producing social divisions which might facilitate strategies of domination” (2001: 238).
Applied to: articles in the press (weeklies, monthlies); Internet material.

Koller’s (2012) critical analysis of collective identity is an example of a three-level analysis of texts. Micro-level is the text itself, meso-level is the discourse practice context, and macro-level is the social context (see the figure below).
The micro-level (linguistic and semiotic) analysis might include the following parameters:
- social actor representation (after van Leeuwen 1996): What groups and individuals are referred to and how? Are social actors included or excluded, genericised or specified, activated or subjected? (p. 23)
- processes: What process types are ascribed to social actors?
- evaluation: What qualities are associated with groups and individuals and how are they evaluated?
- modality: What does the author perceive a social group to be like in the past, present and future? What possible developments are constructed for them (epistemic)? How would the text producer like them to be (deontic)?
- intertextuality and interdiscursivity (after Fairclough, e.g. 2003): What other concrete texts are incorporated into the data at hand? What other genres and discourses do authors align themselves with? Which do they refute? (pp. 24-25)
Questions to consider on the meso-level of analysis: Who is involved in the discursive practices around the text, and in what role? What genre does the text instantiate? Question to address on the macro-level of analysis: What social factors impact on the text and on discourse practice? (p. 27)
Applied to: articles in the press (weeklies, monthlies); Internet material.

In both Fairclough’s and Koller’s frameworks, an important part is played by semiotic analysis. Semiosis is “meaning-making through language, body language, visual images, or any other way of signifying” (Fairclough 2001: 229). In addition to discourse it thus contains, among others, “visual features such as gesture, facial expression and body posture (for spoken interactions), or images, colour, layout and type font (for written texts)” (Koller 2012: 25). Semiotic modes may “reinforce, supplement or contradict” (p. 26) discursive (verbal, linguistic) input, for example in the press, television, Internet.
Examples of studies using the semiotic approach include multimodal analyses of EU informative publications (Caliendo & Magistro 2009), multimodal analysis of mediated suffering (Chouliaraki 2006) and multimodal analysis of fascist music (Machin & Richardson 2012).
Key reading: Van Leeuwen & Jewitt (eds.) 2001, Kress & van Leeuwen 1990, Hodge & Kress 1988. 

For an alternative approach, see the analysis of newspaper photography in Myles 2010, based on Bourdieu's sociology of photography as a "middle-brow" art, recognizing its importance for social and cultural classification (1990).
Applied to: visual material (films, Internet websites, posters, etc.)

Gelber’s (2002) validity claims model derived from the theory of communicative action by Habermas (1984). In Gelber’s own words, “this model enables an assessment to be made of the validity claims raised by speakers in uttering hate-speech-acts, and also provides a framework for suggesting how a communicative response might begin to address those claims” (p. 8).
When an utterance is made, the speaker raises claims regarding the truth of an objective world (claim to objective truth), the rightness of intersubjective norms and values (claim to norms and values), and the sincerity of the speaker’s subjectivities (claim to subjective sincerity). Checking whether the first two claims (the third one is impossible to be read off a speech act) raised in an utterance are valid may help to determine whether the utterance belongs to discriminatory discourse or not, and what is its intent and impact.
[As a side note, Gelber argues that this model may solve the conflict between legal measures against hate speech and the principle of free speech. First, hate-speech act is understood as a social act, hence behaviour. Second, it is interpreted primarily as an act of discrimination, dealt with by applying separate legal measures.]
Applied to: Internet discourse (websites, forums, blogs, comments).

Positive discourse analysis
may be used to investigate counter discourses, especially in the media, where they manage to contest the main, central, predominant (mainstream, hegemonic) frames for reporting the news (Macgilchrist 2007: 74). PDA is based on one of the central claims of critical discourse analysis – that discourse is the site of constant struggle over meaning (p. 75). However, instead of focusing on hegemonic discourses of the elites, PDA investigates marginal discourses. Macgilchrist lists the following examples of alternative media where such discourses may be found: local gay-oriented newspapers, journals of the homeless, British radical press (p. 76).
Macgilchrist’s PDA investigates the following counter-discursive strategies: inversion, parody, complexification, partial reframing and radical reframing. Tannen defines frames as “structures of expectations on the basis of which one organizes knowledge about the world and uses it to predict interpretations of new events” (1993: 16). Reframing, in turn, “can be defined as shifting an issue away from its conventional ‘location’ within one set of shared assumptions and reconstruing it within a different set of knowledges” (Macgilchrist 2007: 80). 

Examples of parody as a counter-discursive strategy abound on The Onion website, for instance: Deformed Freak Born Without Penis; see also this article on Washington Post.
Applied to: discourses of the minorities.

Van Dijk’s (2005) contextual knowledge management theory is concerned with “the way knowledge in discourse production and comprehension is managed as a function of context” (p. 72). Knowledge is defined here “in terms of shared beliefs satisfying the specific (epistemic) criteria of an (epistemic) community” (p. 73). A speaker may possess personal, interpersonal, group, institutional (organizational), national and cultural knowledge (pp. 77-80).
Van Dijk offers a framework of assumptions that speakers use to manage knowledge in interaction, called K-strategies (p. 80).
Applying the CDA perspective to an analysis of knowledge management, e.g. in the news, shows that “what are presupposed truths for one epistemic community, nation or newspaper, may be at best a euphemistic, incomplete or otherwise biased “version” of the facts from another perspective.
We thus see that our theory of contextual knowledge management not only accounts for many aspects of text processing, but also explains several structures of important genres such as news reports” (p. 97).
Applied to: television and press news reports.

Fairclough and Wodak's (1997: 271–80) main tenets of CDA may function as a summary for the above overview: 

1. CDA addresses social problems. 
2. Power relations are discursive. 
3. Discourse constitutes society and culture. 
 4. Discourse does ideological work. 
5. Discourse is historical. 
 6. The link between text and society is mediated. 
7. Discourse analysis is interpretative and explanatory. 
8. Discourse is a form of social action.

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