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  • 00:01


  • 00:11

    SALLY WIGGINS: My name is Sally Wiggins.I'm a senior lecturer in psychology at the Universityof Strathclyde.My main area of research is within social psychology, AND Ifocus specifically on discourse and interactionin everyday settings.In this tutorial, I'll be talking through five main formsof discourse analysis, and these are conversation analysis,discursive psychology, critical discursive psychology,Foucauldian discourse analysis, and critical discourseanalysis.

  • 00:39

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Discourse analysis is a term for a setof qualitative approaches to analyzing talkand text in different settings.If you aren't familiar with discourse analysis,the different forms can look very similar from the outside.But once you get to know them, you'llcome to understand their similarities and differencesin terms of both theory and practice.Before we start to look at the differencesbetween different forms of discourse analysis,it's important to see how they all overlap.

  • 01:03

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: What is common to all forms of discourse analysisis that they make the assumption that discourse constructsrather than reflects reality.So we have different ways of describing things and talkingabout things, and each different wayperforms different functions.So for example, we might describea friend in many different ways--in terms of their physical attributes,their age, their gender, their job,and how similar they are to you.

  • 01:27

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: But you would describe them very differently to your familymembers than if you were to describe them to your employerIf they were looking for a job.So discourse analysis treats talkas being a social action in itself,that when we talk and write about things,we're constructing the world in very different ways.So talk and writing is never neutral.It's always doing something in the world.And that's one of the ways in which discourse analysisdiffers from other forms of qualitative methodologies.

  • 01:52

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: It looks at discourse in its own right rather than as a rootto something else.The different forms of discourse analysishave developed from within different disciplinesand because of different theoretical concerns.One way of considering the different forms of discourseanalysis and getting a sense of how they relate to each otheris to think of them as different lenses of a camera.So that as a camera, they're all interested in understandingsocial life in its varying forms.

  • 02:17

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: But each form of discourse analysiscan be thought of as a different kind of lens,so we have zoom lenses that zoom rightin on the detail of interaction and explorethat in all its intricate debt.We also have wide angle or fish-eye lens that pan outto a much broader perspective.So there are different ways of looking at the same scenebut using different lenses.

  • 02:39

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: One of the benefits of using this analogy of camera lensesmeans that we have to make a decision before westart recording interaction as to which lens we'regoing to use.An example of the zoom lens type of discourse analysisis conversation analysis and also discursive psychology.So they zoom in on the detail of what's going onin a particular interaction.

  • 02:59

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Examples of the broad, wide angle lensesare critical discourse analysis and Foucauldian discourseanalysis, so they take a much broader perspective.And critical discursive psychologylies in between the two.It takes a little bit of the detailand a little bit of the breadth as well.Now what we'll do is consider a specific exampleto illustrate the differences between each form of discourseanalysis.

  • 03:23

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: To start with then, let's consider conversation analysisor CA.CA emerged out of ethno-methodologyand sociology, and perhaps out of all forms of discourseanalysis is the one that has most closely developedalongside technological developments.So for example, in the early daysanalog tape recorders were used to capture everyday interactionon the telephone.

  • 03:43

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: As digital video and audios developedand mobile technologies developed,so has CA in ways of capturing data in different settings.We can use CA-- or conversation analysis--when we're interested in the mechanics of conversation--when we want to understand the organization of talkin everyday settings.So it can allow us to understand how people performsocial actions-- such as starting and stoppingconversations, how people make requests, how people refuseoffers, and so on.

  • 04:10

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So CA really zooms into the heart of the interaction.It will examine the length of pauses to the very microsecond.It will look at overlaps.It will look at how we say um and er; how we pause,hesitate; how we talk loudly or softly.And it really explores all these details in a lot of depth.CA includes all those details in the transcriptbecause it argues that all aspects of conversationare organized and relevant for interaction.

  • 04:35

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So CA really focuses in on the detailof talk-- what was said-- as well as visual aspects.So there are more and more researcherslooking at eye gaze, facial movements, gestures,and bodily orientation.The example that we're going to useto explore these different forms of discourse analysisis a family meal time-- an everydaysetting when we together, either if it'stwo more adults eating together or parents with a new infant.

  • 04:59

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: And we're going to use this exampleto explore how the different forms of DAwill differ in terms of how they approach the settingand how they would analyze it.CA would be very concerned with the details of a meal timeinteraction.It would use a video recording of an actual meal timebetween two people or between parentsand their baby or an infant.So CA is important because it can shed lighton how social actions work, whether itbe how people coordinate food, gesture, talking,and mobile phones during a meal time,or what can happen when things can go wrong.

  • 05:29

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: For example, if an infant continuallyrefuses to eat a certain food.So CA is all about illumination the thingsthat we take for granted.All those intricate, everyday social actionsand explores them in great detail.DP is one of those zoom lens forms of discourse analysis.It was developed from within psychology,and has influences from ethno-methodologyand the sociology of scientific knowledge.

  • 05:55

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: And out of all forms of DA, it is probablythe one that is most associated with conversation analysis.So we can use discursive psychologywhen we want to focus on the detail of interaction,but also when we want to draw on psychological states.But unlike CA, discusses psychologyargues that psychological states are first and foremostsocial actions rather than individual or cognitive states.

  • 06:16

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: But unlike conversation analysis,discursive psychology takes a social constructionist stancetowards concepts such as identities, attitudes,and emotions.So rather than reducing these to beingindividual or cognitive states, discursive psychologylooks at how these issues are managed and developedin interaction.So discursive psychology also zooms in on the interaction,highlighting pauses, overlap, and the way in which wordsare said.

  • 06:40

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: But it's also considered with psychological statesand particularly with issues such as identityand with blame and accountability--so how people manage their own and other people's identities,how people are told to act in certain ways,and how responsibility for actions or events are managed.If we return to our example of a family meal time,then, discursive psychology wouldbe interested in how psychological issues aremanaged in interaction.

  • 07:03

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: It would also be interested in video recording everyday familymeal times to understand what's going on there,and it would focus on issues such as appetite,food preferences, satiety, and disgust.So while conversation analysis mightlook at how food was refused and how that refuse was organizedas a social action, discursive psychologywould look at how a food was refusedand how that was made relevant as either a psychologicalor a social issue-- so how psychological states wereinvoked in the refusing or accepting of a particular food.

  • 07:33

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Discursive psychology is important thenbecause it offers a different theoretical as wellas different analytical perspective on psychology.It examines the detail of interaction,but also explores issue such as identities, emotions,and accountabilities as these are relevantin and for interaction.This is a form of discourse analysisthat lies in between the zoom in lensand the broad angle lens of discourse analysis.

  • 07:58

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Critical discursive psychology, if you like,tries to blend both the detail of interactionas well as broader social issues.So critical discursive psychologyprovides a bridge in some ways between discursive psychologyand Foucauldian discourse analysis, whichwe'll talk about in a moment.With critical discursive psychology or CDP,we begin to see the critical side of discourse analysis--hence critical in the name.

  • 08:19

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So here is a concern to tackle issues that, it is argued,can't be reduced to a line-by-line analysis.These are issues such as subjectivity--what it means to be a person-- and agency-- whether wehave control or choice over what we do.In terms of analysis, critical discursive psychologyexamines patterns in the data in terms of culturallyavailable ways of talking.

  • 08:40

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: These are referred to as interpretative repertoires--the familiar ways of talking about an issuethat shape and structure how we understand a conceptin a particular culture.They inform our common sense understanding of a topic.So critical discursive psychologyalso examines subject positions--how people are positioned in discourse in particular waysas being a particular kind of personor a particular identity, for example.

  • 09:01

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: But unlike conversation analysis or discursive psychology,it looks at how these constructions resonateat a broader social level.So for example, there are interpretation repertoiresthat shape how we understand gender,how we understand family, how we understand education.These are familiar and common sense waysof understanding something that are littered in our discourse.They change the way in which we understand the world.

  • 09:23

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So critical discursive psychologyis also concerned with how words are used,how discourses are used in a particular interaction.But it's less concerned with the detail and the structure,the organization of talk.It's more concerned with what words are usedand how these resonate at a wider social level.If we look then at our meal example,it will be interested in how we draw on different repertoireswhen talking during meal time.

  • 09:45

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Rather than recording a meal time,critical discursive psychology woulduse data such as interviews or focus groupsby people who are talking about sharing a mealor talking about the practice of feeding an infant.Using interviews allows researchersto more readily access these culturally availableinterpretative repertoires.So critical discursive psychologyis important then because it shedslight on those everyday repertoires--familiar ways of talking about an issuethat shape and structure the way we understanda concept in our society.

  • 10:13

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: In a sense, critical discursive psychologyallows us to examine how everyday, common senseways of understanding an issue are produced in everyday talk.Foucauldian discourse analysis emerged from poststructuralismand was heavily influenced by the ideas of MichelFoucault, a French philosopher.We can use Foucauldian discourse analysisto examine how discourses-- different ways of talkingand writing-- are connected to knowledge and power.

  • 10:40

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So knowledge can be thought of as an economy.Different people have different access to this economy.Different people have different accessto knowledge and through different ways of talking.From a Foucauldian discourse analysis perspective,knowledge is constructed within the social and historicalcontext.So what is true for us here and now will not be trueor will not be treated as knowledge in five or 10 yearstime or in a different social context.

  • 11:02

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Foucauldian discourse analysis is one of the wide angle lensesor forms of discourse analysis, so ittakes into account broader social structures and howthese impact on the way in which we talk and write texts.Foucauldian discourse analysis is a form of analysisthat shows the connection between discoursesand subjectivity-- that the way in which we talkand the way in which other people talkhas an impact on how we experience and understandourselves in everyday life.

  • 11:27

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So Foucauldian disclose analysis, then,is concerned with power, knowledge, and discourseand how these three things interconnectand the impact of those on people's everyday lives.It goes beyond the here and now of conversation analysisand discursive psychology, and beyond the subject positionsoff critical discursive psychology,to consider how different discourses, different subjectpositions, can have implications for howpeople understand themselves.

  • 11:52

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Foucauldian discourse analysis is alsointerested in historical changes in discourses--how discourses change over time and howthis produces different knowledge and different subjectpositions at different points in time.Because Foucauldian discourse analysisdraws on wider social and cultural issues,it will also draw on textual and visual imagessuch as advertising and news mediaas well spoken interaction.

  • 12:15

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So if we look at our meal time example,rather than analyzing a video recording of an everyday mealtime, Foucauldian discourse analysismight use interviews or focus groupsof people talking about the processes of food preparation,cooking, and eating together or the processes of feedingan infant.Foucauldian discourse analysis willlook at how people are positionedas different kinds of subjects, for exampleis food provider, as cook, as mother and father, and so on.

  • 12:40

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Foucauldian discourse analysis might analyze advertisementsto see how men and women are positioned differentlyat different points in time, how is shifting positions in termsof women as being stay-at-home mothers to going out to workand using convenience foods for example,and how these position women and men in particular ways.Foucauldian discourse analysis is theninterested in the implications of discoursefor our subjective experience-- how discourseschange over time, how our understanding of whatis knowledge changes over time, and howthat has implications for people's understandingsof themselves.

  • 13:14

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: We now move on to critical discourse analysis, whichis another one of those wide angle forms of discourseanalysis and out of all the five formswe've looked at today is perhaps most critical.Critical discourse analysis has its foundationsin critical linguistics, semiotics,and sociolinguistics.It purposely seeks to reveal the hidden ideologies thatunderlie particular discourses-- how discoursesare used to exert power over some individuals or groups.

  • 13:39

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So there's a real emancipatory visionof critical discourse analysis thatis unique to this form of discourse analysis.We can use critical discourse analysiswhen we want to focus on a social problem of some kind.Critical discourse analysis draws very heavilyon semiotics, so it's interested in howwords and images create or convey meaningin particular ways.And what critical discourse analysis tries to dois unpack those layers of meaningto understand how different individuals or groups aremarginalized or dominated over by other groups in society.

  • 14:06

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So there is a real political visionto critical discourse analysis.Unlike Foucauldian discourse analysis,which also looks at how discourses can categorizeor regulate people in particular ways,critical discourse analysis arguesthat people are oppressed in particular waysthrough the use of different discourses,and it seeks to emancipate those peopleor expose the ideologies that underpin particular discourses.

  • 14:30

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: Because critical discourse analysisis concerned with those broader social and cultural issues,analyzing one person's meal time isn't really as important.What is more important is analyzing broader textsand images that are circulated more widelythrough the population-- for example,political speeches about the decline of the family mealand different gender division in families.

  • 14:52

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: We could also look at, for example,government documents and legislation on the best wayto feed an infant.So critical discourse analysis isinterested in those documents thatseek to present particular versions of the worldand how those versions of the worldmight exert power over some people.So for example, political speechesabout the decline of family mealsmight make certain claims about gender, about sexuality,and about what constitutes a proper family.

  • 15:16

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: These kind of discourses can marginalize or exert powerover people who don't ascribe to that particular lifestyle.So critical discourse analysis is important then, not onlybecause it sheds light on social inequalitiesand how these are produced through certain discourses,but it also illuminates ways in whichyou might seek to challenge these discoursesin different ways.

  • 15:49

    SALLY WIGGINS [continued]: So this tutorials has talked through five main formsof discourse analysis, and we canunderstand these different forms of DAas like lenses of a camera.Your particular research questionor your particular project focus willallow you to choose which form of discourse analysisis most appropriate, whether you wantto zoom in on the details of the interactionsor take a much broader perspective.


Dr. Sally Wiggins discusses five types of discourse analysis: conversation analysis, discursive psychology, critical discursive psychology, Foucauldian discourse analysis, and critical discourse analysis. To illuminate the differences among them, she explains how each type would look at a family meal time.

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An Introduction to Discourse Analysis

Dr. Sally Wiggins discusses five types of discourse analysis: conversation analysis, discursive psychology, critical discursive psychology, Foucauldian discourse analysis, and critical discourse analysis. To illuminate the differences among them, she explains how each type would look at a family meal time.