Posts Tagged ‘methods’


Monday’s morning lecture with new lecturer Mercy, may have just added another element to my final research project. The lectures were about various research methods you can use to write papers and articles. The first was discourse.


Discourse was described as a particular way of talking and understanding the world, through use of language. For example; legal discourse is the way you speak in the courtroom. There will be no use of slang and everyone will speak with respect and dignity to the judge and jury.

There is also a form of media discourse when writing certain headlines that are likely to sell the paper. Sensationalist stories take on a different light when this media discourse is implicated. There are certain words that will be more shocking or appealing; if there is a story of a mother who killed a baby, they are more likely to use the word ‘mother’ rather than mum as it is a more nurturing description.

There are a number of different approaches to how you view discourse but the three main one are what is known as ‘Formalist’, ‘Functionalist’ and ‘Foucauldian’.

A number of famous academics in the area of Discourse Analysis is Van Dijk, Meyer and Weiss. They study what people do with text and talk and what they mean with regards to certain words or in the way or situation it is written  in.

Wodak and Meyer look at things that are obvious and not so obvious in powerful language.


Discourse Analysis

Analysis of what people do with text and talk – Wodak, Meyer, Weiss

Assuming language exists in a disalogue with Society.

Bloors & Bloors say studying texts must be aware of the contextualisation of which the communication took place – like issues in gender across a number of publications like Woman’s Weekly or FHM. Both magazines will talk about women in different way and use completely different language to one another.

Critical discourse analysis roots in critical linguistic analysis and semiotics.



Academic analysis of media texts is vastly different from everyday media analysis perhaps in newspapers or speech.

It’s important to look at materials, even in free democratic countries, published either by political campaigns or newspapers who support the government in power they will often say that “the people have spoken” to convince the rest of the country that the elections were won and this is the guy that was voted in, so everyone must support him.

Common approaches of analysis

       Structuralist semiotics

       Concept analysis

       Discourse analysis


       Rhetorical Analysis

       Ideological approach

       Typological approach

Semiotics was founded by a Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure and it’s to do with the interpretation of signs, not just road signs, but visual everyday signs. For example when I say table you think table. If you see a chair you think that means chair. Everyday signs are made up of signs and images, they are more commonly known as signifiers, or as a concept it is known as signifieds. It is important to note that signs can be used to lie, like if a woman had dark hair but was wearing a blond wig.

There are three different orders to signs:

First order – actual objects: man/woman

Second order – associations; maternal, boobs

Third order – social consensus: legitimising a stereotype – woman moaning

Academics will use a wide range of words to signs and their signifiers

Signs                                    Signifier

Denotation                        Connotation

Literal                                Figurative

Signifier                             Signified

Evident                               Inferred

Describes                           Suggests meaning


Denotation – Big Mac is a sandwich by macdonalds – its something real, often physical.

Connotation – is what the real thing represents, in the Big Mac case, it largely is representative of American culture: fast food, things that are big.

Related concepts



Metonymy – communication by associateion – Rolex is expensive.

Synedoche – White House might be used for US President “White house has released this statement”. The house doesn’t talk but it speaks on behalf of the President.

Intertextuality – Shows how texts borrow from each other

Codes – Culture is a code, to decode it you must understand the behaviour of the people.

Criticisms of semiotics

By checking the technicalities of the language used you ignore how good the article is.

Content analysis is objective whereas semiotics is subjective.

You can code the length of articles, subject matter, read-ability, internal structure, listen-ability, favourability, quotes vs paraphrasing, vigour, balance, location on the page.

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