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Discourse and Contemporary Social Change

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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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Section 1Critical Discourse Analysis and Corpus Linguistics

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Section 1 Critical Discourse Analysis and Corpus Linguistics NORMAN FAIRCLOUGH The Contribution of Discourse Analysis to Research on Social Change My general objective in this chapter will be to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for applying a version of critical discourse analysis within trans-disciplinary research on processes of economic and societal change, with a particular orientation to ‘transition’ in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). My particular objective is to draw upon this approach in an analysis of processes of ‘re-scaling’ in CEE, focusing on Romania – the constitution of new relations between scales (national, local, macro-regional – EU – and ‘global’). I shall discuss in particular the ‘re-scaling’ of Higher Education. 1. Transition The term ‘transition’ has been widely used to represent a planned transformation from socialist economies and one-party states to market economies and western-style democracies. ‘Transition’ construes change as a passage from a well-defined point of departure to a pre-defined destination. We can identify strategies for ‘transition’, which link narratives of the past and present to imaginaries for the future, drawing upon particular sets of discourses. For the countries of CEE, the dominant ‘transition’ strategy has been also an external strategy for change, promoted by the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, foreign governments and so forth. It is a strategy – and some would say an ideology – which has been widely criticized within and outside CEE for its ‘one-size-fits-all’ character – its failure to recognize as some economists put it the inevitable ‘path-dependency’ of change: Norman Fairclough 26 that its direction,...

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