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Discourse and Contemporary Social Change


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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Section 3Language, Social Cognition and Ideology


Section 3 Language, Social Cognition and Ideology TEUN A. VAN DIJK Comments on Context and Conversation 1. Introduction: The debate about context One of the prominent debates in contemporary discourse and conversation analysis (CA) is about whether and how to take into account elements of the social ‘context’ in the analysis of talk (Schegloff 1998, 1999, 2003; Wetherell 1998; Billig 1999a, 1999b). Although in the last decade the number of studies relating conversation with, for instance, the institutional context has increased significantly (see, e.g., Boden 1994, Drew/Heritage 1992), main- stream CA has always been very reluctant to go beyond the structures and strategies of talk itself. If at all, aspects of context in CA are analytically dealt with only if they are procedurally relevant, that is, if they are demonstrably oriented to by the participants themselves (Schegloff 1991, 1992, 2003). There are many good reasons for the reluctance in CA to deal with context. First of all, it has always been a main tenet of CA to focus on the autonomous principles of interaction itself. Secondly, bringing in contextual explanations for some properties of conver- sation might open a Pandora box of unanalyzed social categories, such as those of gender, class or power among many others. In a CA perspective, if these categories are relevant at all, such relevance should not be assumed a priori, but actually demonstrated by the way they become locally enacted and demonstrably produced in talk. This is one of the ways CA and ethnomethodology have...

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