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Conceptual Framework of Discourse
The concept of discourse plays an increasingly significant role in contemporary social science. Although originating in disciplines such as linguistics and semiotics, it has been extended to many branches of the human and social sciences. Scholars in academic disciplines as diverse as anthropology, history and sociology psychoanalysis and social psychology; cultural, gender and post-colonial studies political science, public policy analysis, political theory and international relations, not to mention linguistics and literary theory, have used the concept of discourse to define and explain problems in their respective fields of study (Howarth 2002:1). Therefore, discourse is a difficult concept, largely because there are so many conflicting and overlapping definitions formulated from various theoretical and disciplinary standpoints (see van Dijk 1985a and Mcdonell 1986 for some range).
Discourse is used across the social sciences in a variety of ways , often under the influence of Foucault. Discourse is used in a general sense for language (as well as , for instance , visual images) as an element of social life which is dialectically related to other elements. Discourse is also used more specifically : different discourses are different ways of representing aspects of the world.
Fairclough (2003: 124) views discourses as a way of representing aspects of the world – the processes, relations and structures of the material word , the ‘mental world’ of thoughts, feelings beliefs and so forth, and the social world”. Particular aspects of the world may be represented differently, so we are generally in the position of having to consider the relationship between different discourses. Different discourses are different perspectives on the world, and they are associated with the different relations people have to the world , which in turn depends on their positions in the world, their social and personal identities , and the social relationships in which they stand to other people. Discourses not only represent the world as it is (or rather is seen to be) , they are also projective , imaginaries , representing possible worlds which are different from the actual world, and tied in to projects to change the world in particular directions. The relationships between different discourses are one element of the relationships between different people – they may complement one another, compete with one another, one can dominate others , and so forth. Discourses constitute part of the resources which people deploy in relating to one another–keeping separate from one another, cooperating, competing, dominating–and in seeking to change the ways in which they relate to one another.
Coupland and Jaworski (2001: 148) combine two fundamental approaches to discourse : “as language–in- use and language use relative to social, political and cultural formulations - it is language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order, and shaping individuals' interaction with society". This is the key factor explaining why so many academic disciplines entertain the notion of discourse with such commitment. Discourse falls squarely within the interests not only of linguists, literary critics, critical theorists and communication scientists, but also of geographers, philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, social psychologists, and many others. Despite important differences of emphasis, discourse is an inescapably important concept for understanding society and human responses to it, as well as for understanding language itself.
2.1.1. DEFINING THE CONCEPT OF DISCOURSE:
Originally, the term discourse came from Latin, discursus, meaning ‘to run', `to run on', ‘to run to and fro'. Historically, it has been applied more to rehearsed forms of spoken language – like speeches, where people ‘run on' about a topic – than to spontaneous speech. The modern meaning of discourse as encompassing all forms of talk has evolved because conversations, like formal speeches, `run'. This means that speakers make an effort to give their interactions shape and coherence – not consciously, but as an integral part of co-operating with another speaker to make meaning. So when people refer to talk as discourse they are drawing attention to the way talk is crafted medium (Carter et al. 1997: 165-6).
Twenty years ago, discourse had its traditional meaning: the ordered exposition in writing or speech of a particular subject, a practice familiarly associated with writers such as Descartes and Machiavelli. Recently the term has been used with increasing frequency and with new kinds of meaning, reflecting in part the effect on critical vocabulary of work done within and across the boundaries of various disciplines: linguistics, philosophy, literary criticism, history, psychoanalysis and sociology (Fowler 2001: 62). So much so that it is frequently left undefined, as if its usage are simply common knowledge. It is used widely in analysing literary and non-literary texts and it is often employed to signal a certain theoretical sophistication in ways that are vague and sometimes obfuscatory. It has perhaps the widest range of possible significations of any term in literary and cultural theory, and yet it is often the term within theoretical texts which is least defined. It is interesting therefore to trace the ways in which we try to make sense of the term. The most obvious way to track down its range of meanings is through consulting a dictionary1, but here the more general meanings of the term and its more theoretical usages seem to have become enmeshed, since the theoretical meanings always have an overlaying of the more general meanings (Mills, 1997: 1).
This sense of the general usage of discourse as having to do with conversation and holding forth on a subject, or giving a speech, has been partly due to the etymology of the word. However, it has also been due to the fact that this is the core meaning of the term discours in French, and since the 1960s it is a word which has been associated with French philosophical thought, even though the terms discours and discourse do not correspond to one another exactly. During the 1960s the general meaning of the term, its philosophical meaning and a new set of more theoretical meanings began to diverge slightly, but these more general meanings have always been kept in play, inflecting the theoretical meanings in particular ways.
Within the theoretical range of meanings, it is difficult to know where or how to track down the meaning of discourse. Glossaries of theoretical terms are sometimes of help, but very often the disciplinary context in which the term occurs is more important in trying to determine which of these meanings is being brought into play. This research will try to map out the contexts within which the term discourse is used, in order to narrow down the range of possible meanings.
In linguistics, as Fairclough (1992b) indicates, discourse is used to refer to extended samples of either spoken or written language. This sense of `discourse' emphasizes interaction between speaker and addressee or between writer and reader, and therefore processes of producing and interpreting speech and writing, as well as the situational context of language use. Discourse is also used for different types of language used in different sorts of social situation (e.g. newspaper discourse, advertising discourse, classroom discourse, the discourse of medical consultations).
On the other hand, discourse is widely used in social theory and analysis, for example in the work of Michel Foucault, to refer to different ways of structuring areas of knowledge and social practice. Foucault (1984) treats discourse sometimes as the general domain of all statements, sometimes as an individualizable group of statements, and sometimes as a regulated practice that accounts for a number of statements. Discourses in this sense are manifested in particular ways of using language and other symbolic forms such as visual images (see Thompson 1990). Discourses do not just reflect or represent social entities and relations, they construct or `constitute' them (Fairclough 1992b: 3).
Kress (1985b: 6-7) provides a very useful definition of the concept: "Institutions and social groupings have specific meanings and values which are articulated in language in systematic ways. Discourses are systematically-organized sets of statements which give expression to the meanings and values of an institution. Beyond that, they define, describe and delimit what it is possible to say and not possible to say (and by extension - what it is possible to do or not to do) with respect to the area of concern of that institution, whether marginally or centrally. A discourse provides a set of possible statements about a given area, and organizes and gives structure to the manner in which a particular topic, object, process is to be talked about. In that it provides descriptions, rules, permissions and prohibitions of social and individual actions".
In McCarthy’s view point (2001: 48) ‘the study of discourse is the study of language independently of the notion of the sentence’. This usually involves studying longer (spoken and written) texts but, above all, it involves examining the relationship between a text and the situation in which it occurs.
From another point of view Schiffrin (1994) categorizes the definition of discourse in three groups:
1. Discourse as language above the sentence: The classic definition of discourse as derived from formalist (in Hymes's 1974b terms, "structural") assumptions is that discourse is "language above the sentence or above the clause" (Stubbs 1983: 1). Van Dijk (1985c: 4) suggests : "Structural descriptions characterize discourse at several levels or dimensions of analysis and in terms of many different units, categories, schematic patterns, or relations". Despite the diversity of structural approaches noted by van Dijk, there is a common core: structural analyses focus on the way different units function in relation to each other (a focus shared with structuralism in general (e.g. Levi-Strauss 1967; Piaget 1970), but they disregard "the functional relations with the context of which discourse is a part" (van Dijk 1985c: 4). Since it is precisely this relationship – between discourse and the context of which discourse is a part – that characterizes functional analyses, it might seem that the two approaches have little in common.
Structurally based analyses of discourse find ‘constituents’ (smaller linguistic units) that have particular ‘relationships’ with one another and that can occur in a restricted number of (often rule-governed) ‘arrangements’ (see Grimes 1975, Stubbs 1983, Chap. 5). In many structural approaches, discourse is viewed as a level of structure higher than the sentence, or higher than another unit of text. Harris (1952) - the first linguist to refer to "discourse analysis"– claimed explicitly that discourse is the next level in a hierarchy of morphemes, clauses, and sentences. Harris viewed discourse analysis procedurally as a formal methodology, derived from structural methods of linguistic analysis: such a methodology could break a text down into relationships (such as equivalence, substitution) among its lower-level constituents. Structure was so central to Harris's view of discourse that he also argued that what opposes discourse to a random sequence of sentences is precisely the fact that it has structure: a pattern by which segments of the discourse occur (and recur) relative to each other (Schiffrin 1994: 23-4).
2. Discourse as language use: According to Fasold (1990: 65) the study of discourse is "the study of any aspect of language use". Another statement of this view of discourse is Wodak's (2001b: 66): "Discourse can be understood as a complex bundle of simultaneous and sequential interrelated linguistic acts, which manifest themselves within and across the social fields of action as thematically interrelated semiotic, oral or written tokens, very often as texts, that belong to specific semiotic types, that is genres.... Discourses are open and hybrid and not closed systems at all".
As these views make clear, the analysis of language use (see Saussure's parole, 1959) cannot be independent of the analysis of the purposes and functions of language in human life. This view reaches an extreme in the work of critical language scholarship, i.e. the study of language, power, and ideology. Fairclough , for example, advocates a dialectical conception of language and society whereby "language is a part of society; linguistic phenomena are social phenomena of a special sort, and social phenomena are (in part) linguistic phenomena"(1989: 23). In Fairclough's view, language and society partially constitute one another - such that the analysis of language as an independent (autonomous) system would be a contradiction in terms2 (see also Foucault 1982, Grimshaw 1981). Even in less extreme functionalist views, however, discourse is assumed to be interdependent with social life, such that its analysis necessarily intersects with meanings, activities, and systems outside of itself.3
A definition of discourse as language use is consistent with functionalism in general: discourse is viewed as a system (a socially and culturally organized way of speaking) through which particular functions are realized. Although formal regularities may very well be examined, a functionalist definition of discourse leads analysts away from the structural basis of such regularities to focus, instead, on the way patterns of talk are put to use for certain purposes in particular contexts and/or how they result from the application of communicative strategies. Functionally based approaches tend to draw upon a variety of methods of analysis, often including not just quantitative methods drawn from social scientific approaches, but also more humanistically based interpretive efforts to replicate actors' own purposes or goals. Not surprisingly, they rely less upon the strictly grammatical characteristics of utterances as sentences, than upon the way utterances are situated in contexts.4
3. Discourse as utterances: This view captures the idea that discourse is above (larger than) other units of language; however, by saying that utterance (rather than sentence) is the smaller unit of which discourse is comprised, we can suggest that discourse arises not as a collection of decontextualized units of language structure, but as a collection of inherently contextualized units of language use.
A definition of utterances implies several goals of discourse analysis. First is what we might call syntactic goals, or more appropriately for discourse analysis, sequential goals: are there principles underlying the order in which one utterance, or one type of utterance, follows another? Second is what might be called semantic and pragmatic goals: how does the organization of discourse, and the meaning and use of particular expressions and constructions within certain contexts, allow people to convey and interpret the communicative content of what is said? How does one utterance (and the sequential relationship between utterances) influence the communicative content of another? Thus, defining discourse as utterances seems to balance both the functional emphasis on how language is used in context and the formal emphasis on extended patterns (Schiffrin 1994: 41).
Following Fairclough (2003: 28) , we can say that discourse figures in three main ways in social practice. It figures as :
1.Genres (ways of acting)
2.Discourses (ways of representing)
3.Styles (ways of being)
One way of acting and interacting is through speaking or writing , so discourse figures first as ‘part of the action’ . We can distinguish different genres as different ways of (inter) acting discoursally – interviewing is a genre, for example . Second , discourse figures in the representations which are always a part of social practices – representations of the material world, of other social practices, reflexive self- representations of the practice in question. Representation is clearly a discoursal matter, and we can distinguish different discourses, which may represent the same area of the world from different persepectives or positions. Notice that discourse is being used by Fairclough in two senses : abstractly , as an abstract noun , meaning language and other types of semiosis as elements of social life; more concretely , as a count noun , meaning particular ways of representing part of the world. Third and finally , discourse figures alongside bodily behaviour in constituting particular ways of being , particular social or personal identities. The discoursal aspect of this is called a style.
What makes the process of defining discourse even more complex is that most theorists when using the term do not specify which of these particular meanings they are using. Furthermore, most theorists modify even these basic definitions. What is necessary is to be able to decide in which context the term is being used, and hence what meanings have accrued to it.
So the concept of discourse and genre in particular are used in a variety of disciplines and theories. Genre is used in cultural studies , media studies, film theory , and so forth (see for instance Fiske 1987 , Silverstone 1999). These concepts cut across disciplines and theories , and can operate as bridges between them- as focuses for a dialogue between them through which perspectives in the one can be drawn upon in the development of the other. In the next section we will discuss more broadly the genres of discourse.
عزیزان ما را خوشحال خواهید کرد در صورت داشتن هر گونه پیشنهاد در مورد زبان انگلیسی داشتید از قسمت ارسال نظر پیشنهاد خود را برای ما ارسال فرمایید