RES701 – Discourse analysis

My personal findings on Discourse analysis.

  • What is it ? (Short description of how it works)

Discourse analysis (DA) looking at what is meant ‘beyond the sentence’. This means not only looking at the social meanings/surroundings of the sentence but also studying each word(or part of the word) and its syntax or meaning. The result of looking at any given text with the view of DA is that any message can be communicated and how it can construct a social reality or view.

The example from this site is the best way of describing it I believe;
When the word(s) “terrorist” or “freedom fighter” in a sentence to describe someone it can bring on both positive and negative views, in most cases terrorist being negative and freedom fighter positive. If we then relate the term “muslim” to the above words then it can construct a different relationship to them.

  • What kinds of questions might it be useful for?

When questions or a sentence is introduced by the media.  DA can be used to understand the meaning behind the what is being said. This means looking at the ideologies that may be introduced by it for different cultures and the relationships between what is said and what is meant. This can be applied to political texts too.

  • How might it be used in IT research?

I think it would be best used when the research involves social impacts. Questions or statements that involve social media that are being researched in a Information Technology perspective would be a good example (China’s view on Facebook vs the rest of the world).

  • What are the strengths of the approach?

It breaks down the meaning of a piece of text and gets the social relationships that multiple cultures could/would have from it. Also it can put words or text into perspective when viewed in the big picture like DA does.

  •  What are the weaknesses of the approach?

The primary weakness is that although you can look at the social relationships your own personal bias will affect the result that you come out with. It is also a very work intensive approach to find results. There are a set of steps that need to be worked through. These steps can be or have to be worked through for the whole text all the way down to the individual sentence or even words in the text.

References used;

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