Современный дискурс-анализ



Political discourse: unitary multi-parametric model

The classical approach to the study of political relations was based upon the analysis of objective conditions and processes of social relations of power. The idea was widely spread among researchers that the basic categories of analysis, such as “power”, “political relations”, “domination”, “coercion” reflected the existing objects of reality and connections between them. In other words power was thought to exist as real and the role of a researcher was reduced to revealing the actual conditions of its function: the political relations were referred to as objectively real (Marx, Pareto, Burdeau, etc.).

The modern (so-called “non-classical” or “post non-classical”) studies of political discourse (Deleuze, Guattari, Zizek, van Dijk, Wodak, Fairclough) were often made to challenge the classical models of analysis of relations of power in social field. These studies focused on semiotic, linguistic and pragmatic aspects of the problem. Arguably the very object of research was shifted from so-called objective or real conditions and mechanisms of production, reproduction and redistribution of the relations of power to the revealing of their discursive organization mainly in the form of semiotic potential of the language of politics for construction of social reality and real social relations.

Today both politics and its relations tend to be described not as “really existing objects”, but as forms that emerged as a result of “silent agreement” to consider them as real. Besides, politics and power relations are considered to be the effects of their reference. In order to become real, power must be “named”, “referred to” and “spoken”. The modern discourse theory sees the acts of naming, referring to and speaking about power as acts of its actual implementation or “incorporation”. Some researchers, such as R. Wodak and N. Fairclough, believe that we implement power when we publicly claim it, which means that power has a performative nature (Fairclough, Wodak, 1997).

The expansion of discourse analysis in political studies goes hand in hand with some inevitable complications of both methodological and terminological kind. For instance we may notice the disagreement about the purposes of study of political discourse. Many researchers follow the methodological prescriptions elaborated by Michael Foucault - the key figure of the present-day discourse studies and the author of the “archeological” method of the research of systems of knowledge. However in many cases they tend to underestimate the fact that the foucauldian model of discourse-analysis was elaborated and applied mainly in connection with the concept of absolute power in global systems of knowledge or in connection with different periods the development of human civilization and its discursive formations. In other words foucauldian model of analysis of discourse as historical and temporal formation is often applied for the analysis of discrete phenomena (events, situations, local contexts etc.). This application of the ideas of Michael Foucault does in our opinion not fully correspond to the very idea of his “archeological” discourse analysis with its search for the historical principles of emergence and dissemination of some special types of texts. Besides, some postmodern theories tend to overestimate the role of context in political discourse, which makes it hard to reveal the patterns of the discourse reproduction and, thus to build the general theory of the discourse.

The other problem of modern discourse-analysis is connected with the unbalance between its theory and its practice. The rapid development of discourse studies has become the reason for the large accumulation of the empirical data: as a result of it we possess the huge body of scientific material that may hardly be summarized by means of a universal theory. It may be the proper moment that the developing domain of discourse analysis produces a theory that could process and summarize the scientific data collected by the cross-disciplinary fields.

Finally, the political discourse analysis seems to be the adequate instrument not exclusively for the study of actors and conditions of the discourse per se, but also for the understanding of its place and role among the social institutions. That is to say, if the purpose of politics is claimed to be redistribution of power in society, we also need to analyze the correlation between politics as an institution with other institutions, such as education, medicine, science and law. This goal may only be achieved by combination of approaches and models of studies of political discourse. This will also provide the means of definition of its specification and its comparative analysis.

The contradictory, often conflicting interpretation of the term “discourse” often leads to problems of understanding of results of analysis. This situation is partly due to the complex nature of discourse as a phenomenon, as well as due to the complexity of the fields (linguistic, social, philosophic, cultural, semiotic, psychological, anthropological, postcolonial, and many other) of its study. [2]

At this point it would be helpful to define the major gaps of the present-day discourse knowledge: first – the lack of advanced strategies of application of tested methodologies to the analysis of actual empirical data, second – the problem of interpretation of large corpus of empirical data by means of the existing methodologies, third – the problem of developing of cross-disciplinary approach to the analysis of institutional discursive practices.

The above-mentioned problems have become the subject of discussions in different fields of social sciences and humanities. The researchers of multiple scientific domains have yet to come to agreements on such vital questions as methodology of interdisciplinary consolidation in discourse studies, elaboration of unitary approach to discourse, definition of its key parameters, elaboration of methodological foundation for the analysis of compatibility between the discourses of different types, elaboration of the general discourse theory that could unite the multiple disciplinary approaches to discourse.

Unluckily enough the attempts to solve the above-mentioned problems are scarce and often incomplete.

It may be seen as symptomatic that the most vivid discussions as well as the most obvious results have been so far achieved in the sphere of political discourse-analysis. It is possible to divide the numerous analytic approaches to political discourse in two main categories. The first one, named “Critical Discourse Analysis” (CDA) is based on interpretation of discourse as unambiguously extra-linguistic phenomenon in which the social, political and cultural characteristics dominate the linguistic nature of the discourse. The advocates of CDA (T. van Dijk, R. Wodak, N. Fairclough, E. Laclau, S. Mouffe) claim that the main task of the today’s analytical work is aimed for production of scientific methods that could provide ways to overcome the overconcentration of CDA on linguistic aspects of the analyzed discourses and elaborate a theoretical framework to combine sociological, cognitive and linguistic categories (Wodak, 2006: 181). Thus in the article “Mediation between discourse and society: assessing cognitive approach in CDA” R.Wodak writes that complex relations between discourse and society cannot be adequately described without combination of linguistic and sociological approaches (Wodak, 2006: 181)

The second category concentrates on development of linguistic approach to political discourse. Here, the context of the realization of language and texts of politics is interpreted in terms of linguistic content of discourse: the semantic and syntactic structures of language may determinate behavior, views and relations among people. The linguistic approach reveals mainly the rhetoric (persuasive and suggestive) functions of the language of politics (Karasik, Cherniavskaya, Sheigal, etc.).

To a large extent these two scientific strategies cannot exist separately as they complement each other. However the process of interfiled communication may not be effective due to the lack of established model of political discourse.

The further reasoning must be supported by some preliminary explanations. Firstly we regard discourse as a specifically organized and thematically focused sequence of utterances that is produced within some peculiar historical and social frameworks and which perception may influence models of subjective experience, cognitive representations of the environment, believes and behavior of individuals. By providing such interpretation of discourse we emphasize its dynamic and normative characteristics. We believe that discourse is not so much the result of human activity, as it is the activity itself, not so much the structure of utterances as prescriptions to their structuring in particular conditions. In accordance with the provided definition of discourse, political discourse may be seen as specifically organized and thematically focused sequence of utterances that is produced within some peculiar historical and social frameworks and which reception may support and change the relations of power in society.

Let us briefly characterize the content of the parameters of the political discorse:
Teleological parameter of political discourse includes goals of discourse as a manifestation of its functionality. In light of relations of distribution of power, prohibition, regulation and stimulation, such functions as information, instrumentation, control, legitimation, and prediction become the main functions of political discourse.

The informative function is realized on the basis of institutional correlation between the discourses of politics and mass media. This process activates the informative and linguistic ontology of political discourse that is aimed at objectivation of its informational objects. The projection of the informational field of discourse produced by means of mass media thus becomes an important condition of the process of the incorporation of social power. Similarly information broadcasting and media become the important condition for maintenance of the relations of power. The basis of the process of information broadcasting as both purpose and ontology of political discourse is embodied in so-called instrumental function.

The instrumental function provides mechanisms of informational reproduction of political discourse in society; it is based on relations between mass media and elites. In order to provide maximum stability of political status quo, elites exert pressure on mass media to control the form and content of the news. In their turn, mass media can also influence political discourse with their monopoly for implementation of its instrumental functions.

Normalization, legitimation and prognosis act as the central elements of power relations in society. Normalization and control expressed among other things in the legitimate right of state for limited violence function as milstones of state politics. Besides normalization also plays its role in resource distribution which makes it an important element of content of relations of power.

Legitimation and control provide the specific forms of support and reproduction of power relations in society. Similar to religious discourse these functions help to develop the inner symbolic connection between the present the past and the future which helps to support specific power relations in society.

As we analyze the teleology of political discourse, we come to conclusion that this specific type of discourse is not so much aimed at reflection of the environment than at production of power during the specific actualization of language. During this process of actualization inside of discourse words obtain new, objective nature.

Ontology of political discourse is formed on the basis of power relations and their agents inside of discourse. The relevant processes of referential deviation change such typical social phenomena as political relations, societies, agents, traditions, norms and rituals in such a way that the later become part of relations of power and reflect the specificity of political discourse as an institution.

Cognitive parameter includes argumentation, means of cognition and logical mechanisms in political discourse. One of its important characteristics is typical latency of its arguments. By this we mean deliberate employment of argumentations that appeal to emotions of recipients rather than their reason. Political discourse extensively uses emotional argumentation as well as argumentation that appeals to traditions, universally acknowledged authorities, cultural values, historical examples. As for the language of politics, it is characterized in terms of its semantic latency, ideological diversity, emotionality, agonality, fideism, pseudo-dialogism (when texts presented as dialogues, de facto are monologues). These characteristics show its pragmatic orientation towards the results in the sphere of social relations of power. The language of political discourse acts as the main tool of manipulation in politics.

The specificity of texts of political discourse may be characterized in terms of textual diversity which also serves as an argument in favor of the idea of the role of speech and communication that form the very nature of political discourse. By pronouncing texts of political discourse people activate mechanisms of incorporation and objectivation of power relations in society. The corpus of texts of political discourse is formed by the variety of normative, referential, narrative and descriptive meanings.

The contexts of political discourse are formed on the basis of precedent texts that create the necessary conditions for the implication of social power on the basis of individual and social recognition. Besides the process of context construction in political discourse is largely influenced by mass media that creates the effects of remoteness and theatricality in discourse [8; 59] The institutional specifics of political discourse is also constructed by means of reduction of the role of chronotopes which helps to achieve such effects as fideism and esoterism [8; 53].

Communicative parameter of political discourse includes elements of institutionalized semiotic sphere of communication, institutionalized system of relations between the agents of communication and the strategy of institutionalization of communication in political discourse. This strategy is based on the mass character of communication, latency of borders of communicative space, phantom character of communication and other means of incorporating of power.

The model of institutional discourse that we present in this article is aimed at solving several important tasks.
First – the model may be applied for the analysis of forms of presentation of subjects of an institution (forms of semiotic performance of participants of the institution - stable, frequent and recognized as necessary within the borders of institutional (e.g. president’s address to nation, opponent’s speech at thesis presentation, teacher’s announcement of grades to the class etc.).

Second – the model provides tools for analysis of discursive means of social differentiation (frequent and relatively stable means of creation and reproduction of intergroup difference (for example special “institutionalized” vocabulary – “poor student”, “gifted students”, “corrupted official” etc.).

Third – by means of model it is possible to get access to the processes of signification and legitimation of meaning of specific social relations (for example lawmaking practice or scientific diagnostics).

Forth - the model may be applied for qualification of discourse, that is the search and definition of its specific genre qualities which is important when the border line has to be drawn between discourses (e.g. to distinct science from ideology).

Fifth – by means of model different discourses may be compared in order to reveal their compatibility.

The former three tasks imply the analysis of the process of construction and re-construction of institutions. This process is understood as exclusively discursive i.e. process in which semiotic elements may have self-contained character as in political discourse which fundamental function is creation and (re) distribution of utterances that in their turn produce other utterances ad infinitum. Similarly discourse may lead to some specific “discourse-bound” actions (i.e. actions postulated by discourse itself) such as implementation of law, realization of educational programs in pedagogic discourse or social programs in political discourse or medical prescriptions. The production of specific social or existential meanings becomes the effect of this discursive process.

Apparently as complicated subject of analysis as institutional discourse is, it may not be fully analyzed exclusively in the frameworks of its parameters (e.g. “adressant-recipient” or “text-context”. On the contrary we believe that construction of general model of institutional discourses will both help to research their specifics and to analyze them in comparative mode.

In conclusion we would like to mention that building of the multi-parametric model of political discourse makes it possible not only to unite the scientific methodology of cross-disciplinary area, but also to create the new methodological basis for the study of both political and other institutional discourses.



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Об авторах

Евгений Александрович Кожемякин, доктор философских наук, зав.кафедрой коммуникативистики, рекламы и связей с общественностью НИУ «БелГУ»


Переверзев Егор Викторович, кандидат философских наук.