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Discourse and Contemporary Social Change

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Edited By Norman Fairclough, Guiseppina Cortese and Patrizia Ardizzone

This book draws together a rich variety of perspectives on discourse as a facet of contemporary social change, representing a number of different disciplines, theoretical positions and methods. The specific focus of the volume is on discourse as a moment of social change, which can be seen to involve objects of research which comprise versions of some or all of the following research questions: How and where did discourses (narratives) emerge and develop? How and where did they achieve hegemonic status? How and where and how extensively have they been recontextualized? How and where and to what extent have they been operationalized? The dialectical approach indicated above implies that discourse analysis includes analysis of relations between language (more broadly, semiosis) and its social ‘context’.

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NORMAN FAIRCLOUGH Introduction 9

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NORMAN FAIRCLOUGH Introduction This book draws together a rich variety of perspectives on discourse as a facet of contemporary social change, representing a number of different disciplines, theoretical positions and methods. I shall introduce it by way of some general reflections on the theme of discourse and contemporary social change, referring as appropriate to particular chapters. I have spent most of my academic career in Britain, but I have been living and researching for the past three years in Romania. Romania, like other ‘post-communist’ countries, has been radically and profoundly transformed since 1990. Its centralized state-owned and state-controlled economy has become a market economy, its single-party state has become a multi-party liberal parliamentary democracy, its centre of gravity has moved west towards ‘Euro- Atlantic integration’, and these and other changes have affected more or less dramatically many aspects of the lives of most of its population, in some cases unreservedly for the good, in some cases for the bad, but in most cases with a complex and often confusing mixture of positive and negative effects. Social change has not been so dramatic in Britain during these years, but even in such relatively stable countries many areas of social life have been undergoing constant and rapid change. Economic, political and social change and their effects on people’s identities, their hopes and fears for the future, their sense of security or insecurity, constitute a major contemporary thematic in academic research, politics, popular culture and daily experience on a global scale. Academics and...

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