This chapter focuses on how Critical Discourse Analysis relies on Bhasker’s critical realism for its theoretical component, and the work of Foucault and French discourse analysis for its analytical component. Its objective is to deploy how middle-range social theory theorises the social power of language to show how language and other forms of semiosis are transformative, giving discourse analysis a role in social theory. This serves as the basis for the ‘critical’. The focus is on ideology and how discourse facilitates its analysis and subsequent subversion.

The perspective is critically evaluated through a consideration of the how the subject, the social and the discursive are understood. Its dualist epistemology is operated within the context of a realist ontology, the focus being on the relationship between agency, in terms of process and events, and structure. Bhaskar’s naturalism appears in how social structure is made of emergent properties of interaction. The social structure delimits what is possible. Action is constructed by reference to discourse. The relationship between structure and action (as discourse) is reciprocal, leading to the claim that discourse can influence society. However, since much of social practice is tacit and ideological, the ‘lay person’ is subject to dominant influences. Only the privileged perspective of the social scientist can effect the necessary transformation.