chapter  17
9 Pages

Critical discourse analysis

WithIAN MASON

The term Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA, sometimes known as Critical Linguistics or Critical Discourse Studies) describes a broad approach to the analysis of discourse that employs a variety of methods in order to reveal ways in which discourse practices are closely involved in the exercise of power and control in society. It is a fundamental principle of CDA that discourse practices are both socially constituted and socially constitutive. Discourse, in other words, is seen as an essential part of social practice, at one and the same time being shaped by the latter and also, through repeated use, helping to shape it. CDA is thus both diverse and interdisciplinary; all practitioners would agree that the analysis of texts can assist in providing, but can never on its own provide, a full account of the ways in which language is involved in the exercise of power and control in society and that social theory is an essential component of any CDA study. Given the multiplicity of senses in which the term “discourse” is employed

among specialists, it will be useful to make clear at the outset the senses in which the term is used in this chapter. Following Widdowson (2004), “discourse” (D1) will be understood as the pragmatic process of negotiating meaning in communication, with “text” or “talk” as its product. This process being socially constituted, it gives rise to practices recognizable as giving voice to the attitudes and values of social groups or institutions. These are “discourses” (D2), a sociocultural construct that is closely bound up with those of identity and community.