Institutional Construction of Gamblers’ Identities

A Critical Multi-method Discourse Study

by Ray C.H. Leung (Author)
©2017 Monographs 240 Pages


This monograph is a pioneering discourse-oriented study on gambling. Adopting the approach of critical discourse analysis (CDA), it analyzes how gamblers’ identities are constructed through discourse by social institutions. The data consist of newspaper forum letters, gamblers’ monologues released by a state gambling regulatory agency, and materials on problem/pathological gambling published by medical professionals. Incorporating a variety of analytical frameworks from prior researchers into the study, the author offers concrete linguistic evidence on the essential complementary ontological presence of institutional power holders and the «docile bodies» (Foucault, 1977) for societal functioning and the maintenance of social stability.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Editorial
  • Table of contents
  • List of tables
  • List of figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Part I: Introduction to the Research
  • Chapter 1: Lead-in
  • 1.1 Background information
  • 1.1.1 Definition of gambling
  • 1.1.2 Classification of gamblers
  • 1.1.3 Prevalence of gambling
  • 1.1.4 Societal perception of gambling
  • 1.1.5 Problem/Pathological gambling
  • 1.1.6 Subversion and containment
  • 1.1.7 Stigmatization
  • 1.1.8 Stakeholders
  • 1.1.9 Language, identity and constructionism
  • 1.2 Objectives of the study
  • 1.3 Significance of the study
  • 1.4 Outline of the book
  • Chapter 2: Literature Review
  • 2.1 Critical discourse analysis (CDA)
  • 2.1.1 Origin and development
  • 2.1.2 Basic principles and meta-theory
  • 2.2 Theoretical notions underpinning the study
  • 2.2.1 Public sphere, dialogism and Ideological State Apparatuses
  • 2.2.2 Legitimation and hegemony
  • 2.2.3 Différance
  • 2.2.4 Medicalized subject, intertextuality and recontextualization
  • 2.3 Analytical categories used
  • 2.3.1 Meaning relations between sentences/clauses
  • Discursive construction of legitimation
  • Discursive construction of hegemony (“equivalence and difference”)
  • “Logic of appearances” against “explanatory logic”
  • 2.3.2 Systemic functional linguistics (SFL)—Process types
  • 2.3.3 Appraisal theory
  • 2.3.4 Code choice
  • 2.3.5 Sociocognitive approach to discourse
  • 2.3.6 Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT)
  • 2.4 Rationale behind the selection of analytical categories
  • 2.5 Relevant empirical studies
  • 2.5.1 Discursive construction of legitimation
  • 2.5.2 Discursive construction of hegemony (“equivalence and difference”)
  • 2.5.3 “Logic of appearances” against “explanatory logic”
  • 2.5.4 Systemic functional linguistics (SFL)—Process types
  • 2.5.5 Appraisal theory
  • 2.5.6 Code choice
  • 2.5.7 Sociocognitive approach to discourse
  • 2.5.8 Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT)
  • 2.6 Chapter summary
  • Chapter 3: Research Methodology
  • 3.1 Site of investigation
  • 3.2 Data sets
  • 3.2.1 Newspaper forum letters
  • Time span
  • The Straits Times
  • Procedure
  • 3.2.2 The government campaign—“Know the Line”
  • The four speakers
  • Procedure
  • 3.2.3 Texts by medical experts
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • National Addictions Management Service promotional leaflet
  • Addiction and Recovery for Dummies
  • Justifications for the choice of texts
  • Qualitative approach to textual analysis
  • “Semantic units” identified
  • 3.3 Rationale behind the selection of the three data sets
  • 3.4 Chapter summary
  • Part II: Data Analysis
  • Chapter 4: Opening Scene: The Public Sphere
  • 4.1 Legitimation strategies identified from the data
  • 4.1.1 Personal authority
  • 4.1.2 Expert recommendation
  • 4.1.3 Moral value evaluation
  • 4.1.4 Instrumental rationalization
  • 4.1.5 Theoretical rationalization
  • 4.1.6 Mythopoesis
  • 4.1.7 Summary and ideological implications
  • 4.2 Tokens of hegemony (“equivalence and difference”) identified from the data
  • 4.2.1 Opposition markers
  • 4.2.2 Equivalence markers
  • 4.2.3 Summary and ideological implications
  • 4.3 “Logic of appearances” versus “explanatory logic” with reference to the data
  • 4.3.1 Causal relations
  • 4.3.2 Conditional and temporal relations
  • 4.3.3 Additive relations
  • 4.3.4 Elaborative relations
  • 4.3.5 Contrastive relations
  • 4.3.6 Summary and ideological implications
  • 4.4 Chapter conclusion
  • 4.4.1 Analytic outcomes
  • 4.4.2 Synthesis
  • 4.4.3 Emerging issues
  • Chapter 5: Juxtaposition as a Symbolic Resource for Public Governance
  • 5.1 Amount of talk analyzed
  • 5.2 Process types identified from the data
  • 5.3 Attitude resources identified from the data
  • 5.4 Engagement resources identified from the data
  • 5.5 Instances of code switching and mixing
  • 5.6 Chapter conclusion
  • Chapter 6: Diffusion of Specialized Knowledge from Experts to Novices
  • 6.1 Semantic unit—Definition
  • 6.2 Semantic unit—Criteria
  • 6.3 Semantic unit—Prevalence
  • 6.4 Semantic unit—Other problems
  • 6.5 Remarks on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5
  • 6.6 Chapter conclusion
  • Chapter 7: Conceptualizations of Gamblers and Gambling
  • 7.1 Metaphoric tokens identified
  • 7.2 Semantic domains identified
  • 7.3 Chapter conclusion
  • Part III: Conclusion
  • Chapter 8: Summary and Concluding Remarks
  • 8.1 Recapitulation of major findings
  • 8.2 Implications of the present research
  • 8.2.1 Ideological implications
  • 8.2.2 Scholarly implications
  • Among discourse analysts
  • Among other academics
  • 8.2.3 Social implications
  • 8.3 Revisiting/Consolidating the analytic tools for examining discursive identities
  • 8.4 Potential directions for further studies
  • References
  • Index
  • Series Index

← 12 | 13 →

List of tables

← 14 | 15 →

List of figures

← 16 | 17 →


As this book is primarily based on my doctoral research at Hong Kong Baptist University, I would like to express immense gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Kenneth Kong. Since my undergraduate years at Baptist University, his guidance and advice have profoundly shaped my path to become a professional researcher in discourse analysis. While revising the thesis for publication, I took into consideration the valuable comments provided by the two external examiners (Prof. Winnie Cheng and Prof. Martin Warren) and the internal examiners (Prof. Stuart Christie, Dr. Phoenix Lam and Prof. Douglas Robinson).

Besides, I want to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to Prof. Hans-Georg Wolf at the University of Potsdam. His suggestion to incorporate the study of conceptualizations into discourse analysis has been the inspiration for the work done in Chapter 7, which was not included in the original thesis.

Furthermore, let me give thanks to Mr. Michael Rücker, Senior Acquisitions Editor of Peter Lang. Due to his efficiency, this project could be carried out smoothly. I am also honored that Prof. Peter Kosta from the editorial board of the Potsdam Linguistic Investigations series has accepted the manuscript with positive remarks about my research topic.

Chapter 5 of this book was previously published as a journal article in Text & Talk. I would like to thank Walter De Gruyter for granting the permission to use the article in this book.

Having said that, all remaining errors are my own.

People outside the academic domain play a significant role throughout my journey of scholarly research as well. My parents’ selflessness to their children has been a powerful source of motivation for me. Abschließend möchte ich mich bei Herrn Thomas Heidenreich bedanken. Seine Unterstützung ist besonders wichtig für mich. ← 17 | 18 →

← 18 | 19 →


This research is aimed at unraveling the institutional representations of gamblers’ identities in the postmodern era. Although gambling has been widely researched in many fields such as psychology, sociology and cultural studies (e.g., Cosgrave, 2006; Karter, 2015; Kingma, 2010; McMillen, 1996; Petry, 2005; Richard, Blaszczynski & Nower, 2014), there has been a lack of scholarly inquiry vis-à-vis this topic among language researchers including discourse analysts. With the recent inauguration of two casino-based holiday resorts, Singapore provides a suitable platform for carrying out gambling-related academic research.

Adopting the approach of critical discourse analysis (CDA), this study focuses on how gamblers’ identities are constructed through discourse as an artifact by social institutions. To this end, the present research capitalizes on the Bakhtinian (1981) notion of “dialogism” and makes use of multiple data sets in which different institutional “voices” are embedded. The data consist of newspaper forum letters, gamblers’ monologues released by a state gambling regulatory agency, and materials on problem/pathological gambling published by medical professionals.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (September)
Discourse analysis Applied linguistics Social institutions Singapore Medical professionals
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 240 S., 12 s/w Abb., 25 Tab.

Biographical notes

Ray C.H. Leung (Author)

Ray C. H. Leung graduated from Hong Kong Baptist University with a PhD in Linguistics. His main academic interest is discourse analysis. With competence in Chinese, English, Spanish and German, Ray C. H. Leung is a multilingual researcher.


Title: Institutional Construction of Gamblers’ Identities
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242 pages