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Discourse Analysis and Human and Social Sciences

Edited By Simone Bonnafous and Malika Temmar

What is the relationship between discourse analysis and its more recent companion disciplines such as sociology, political science and information and communication sciences, at their point of convergence between the symbolic and the social? How are relationships evolving between discourse analysis and disciplines like the literary studies, psychoanalysis and philosophy, which have been the constant companions of linguistics as these emerged and developed? What is the place and role of discourse analysis in Europe? These are some of the themes dealt with in this book. A team effort on the part of Centre d’Etude des Discours, Images, Texte, Ecrits, Communication (Céditec EA 3119), it aims not to present another view of the history and concepts of discourse analysis, but to encourage thinking and debate on interdisciplinary practices.


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VI. Analysing a debate. The contributions of argumentation study to political science - Juliette RENNES 93


93 Chapter VI Analysing controversy. The contributions of argumentation study to political science Juliette RENNES What is a political controversy? The answer to this question depends partly on which discipline is asking it. In political sociology, the defi- nition will tend to emphasise the process by which a polemic, relat- ing to a public decision or political action to be undertaken, moves away from its initial localised “arena” to affect a more general public [Cobb and Elder, 1972; Favre, 1992; Cefaï, 1996; Barthe, 2006 ]. In discourse analysis, stress will be laid upon the cluster of recurrent contradictory arguments which mark the discursive identity of the controversy across these different arenas of public debate. In this chapter, I would like to outline a few ways in which the first ap- proach can benefit from the second. By basing what I have to say more particularly on an argumentative and rhetorical analysis of what might be called equality controversies in democracy, I hope to cast a discursive light on a certain number of questions raised by political sociology. The life of a controversy is generally broken down into several phases, all of which give rise to a whole battery of sociological ques- tions. These relate to the conditions under which the controversy emerges, the configurations of actors supporting it, the series of posi- tions it creates and the partisan groupings established, as well as to the differences and shared features of the way it is formed into a militant, institutional and media...

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