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Robert Darnton

The article critically explores the different paths chosen by closely related historical disciplines: intellectual history and the history of books. While the former has focused on discourse analysis, the latter has given more attention to the study of diffusion. Historians who study the diffusion of books commonly run into a difficulty: the best-sellers of the past may serve as an indicator of public taste, but they may also be trivial, and they do not necessarily lead to explanations of important events such as the Reformation and the French Revolution. On the other hand, discourse analysis is confined to a narrow band of textual evidence, and thus cannot provide much insight on the values and views of ordinary people caught up in the patterns of everyday life. The author concludes by discussing how the history of books, particularly the history of reading and the history of publishing, can have important implications for the study of discourse.

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Maria Ferretti and Enzo Rossi

Agonist theorists have argued against deliberative democrats that democratic institutions should not seek to establish a rational consensus, but rather allow political disagreements to be expressed in an adversarial form. But democratic agonism is not antagonism: some restriction of the plurality of admissible expressions is not incompatible with a legitimate public sphere. However, is it generally possible to grant this distinction between antagonism and agonism without accepting normative standards in public discourse that saliently resemble those advocated by (some) deliberative democrats? In this paper we provide an analysis of one important aspect of political communication, the use of slippery-slope arguments, and show that the fact of pluralism weakens the agonists' case for contestation as a sufficient ingredient for appropriately democratic public discourse. We illustrate that contention by identifying two specific kinds of what we call pluralism slippery slopes, that is, mechanisms whereby pluralism reinforces the efficacy of slippery-slope arguments.

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Katherine Smith

This paper draws on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Higher Blackley, North Manchester, England, to explore the ways in which individuals and groups who identify themselves and are identified as 'white', 'working class' and 'English' resist what they perceive as dominant ideas and discourses, deeply unsettling of their 'Englishness'. Perceptions and expectations of 'fairness' underpin social relations in Higher Blackley and this paper will explore perceptions of dominance through the local idiom of fairness. I explore how sentiments of belonging in this area are then imaginatively transposed onto national and international levels.

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Imagining the Textbook

Textbooks as Discourse and Genre

Eleftherios Klerides

This article examines textbooks, especially history textbooks, seeking to contribute to an emerging body of scholarship that endeavors to understand the nature, specific properties, and characteristics of this medium. Using systemic functional linguistics and a context-based perspective of language as its theoretical point of departure, it argues for a dual imagining of the textbook as discourse and genre. In imagining the textbook, the article calls for a rethinking of comparative textbook research in the future, based on a novel cluster of conceptual priorities deriving from postmodern thought.

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The Theatre of Human Trafficking

A Global Discourse on Lao Stages

Roy Huijsmans

Using the Lao PDR as a case study, this paper analyses human trafficking as discourse. Human trafficking is identified as a global discourse that is globalized through a set of powerful relations and actors. Following Appadurai, it is argued that this global discourse is not passively received by local actors such as the Lao state. This demonstrated by unravelling the global–local interactions through which it has entered the Lao social landscape. This is complemented with an analysis of a series of events in which the human trafficking discourse is staged on Lao soil. On this basis, the paper argues that the global human trafficking discourse is actively indigenized through, amongst other things, the social practice of staging. In addition, the paper argues that this indigenized discourse is employed by actors in more localized power struggles; in this case, by the Lao state as a response to boundary crises triggered by the phenomenon of cross-border migration into Thailand as an important manifestation of the overarching process of transition.

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Jon Harald Sande Lie

Through its post-structural critique of development, post-development provides a fundamental dismissal of institutional development. Drawing on the work of Foucault, post-development portrays development as a monolithic and hegemonic discourse that constructs rather than solves the problems it purports to address. Yet post-development itself becomes guilty of creating an analysis that loses sight of individuals and agency, being fundamental to its development critique. This article discusses the discourse-agency nexus in light of the post-development context with specific reference to the grand structure-actor conundrum of social theory, and asks whether an actor perspective is compatible with discourse analysis and what—if anything—should be given primacy. It aims to provide insight into social theory and post-development comparatively and, furthermore, to put these in context, with Foucault's work being pivotal to the seminal post-development approach.

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Valerie R. Friesen

In many parts of the developing world, sport is a non-traditional activity for girls, one which is being used increasingly by development organizations for the empowerment of girls and women. However, very little research has been done on the complex subjective perceptions and understandings of the participants themselves. The girls in this study were participants in an after-school program in Windhoek, Namibia, which combines academics and sport. I used discourse analysis to highlight issues of agency, power, and gender that emerge from their reflections on their sport participation. Girls' conversations often revealed acceptance and normalization of dominant gender norms but also a growing critical consciousness, and demonstrated the numerous ways girls resist, negotiate and engage with these discourses through their own perceptions of power, agency, and hope.

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Discourses of Choice and Experiences of Constraint

Analyses of Girls' Use of Violence

Marion Brown

Girls who use violence are marginalized as the worst of the mean girls, disrupting conventional femininity codes and causing panic in the streets. Twenty two girls participated in a qualitative study in Nova Scotia about what it means to be a girl and use violence. Interpretations presented here suggest that their reasoning can be contextualized through an analysis of neoliberalism, racism, heterosexism and classism, as they navigate discourses of choice and experiences of constraint.

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Uffe Jakobsen

This article traces the uses of the concept of citizenship in Danish public discourse in light of the theoretical framework of conceptual history. The author draws upon parliamentary debates, media articles, and debates on political subjects that are part of the textual corpus that served to create The Danish Dictionary in order not only to identify the different usages and conceptual changes of “citizenship” but also to identify the actors using the concept. In addition to mapping the use of “citizenship” in its traditional meanings, such as the entitlement to rights, political identity, civic virtue, and political participation, the Jakobsen encounters a new meaning, namely, citizenship as “free consumer choice.” This conceptual change, however, is only espoused by elected politicians, while ordinary people tend to preserve the traditional meanings of citizenship.

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Franco Ruzzenenti and Aleksandra Wagner

The aim of the article is to discuss the unintended consequences of energy efficiency, in the context of defuturization, by addressing the phenomenon of the rebound effect. The energy discourse is presented as ideological discourse protecting the status quo, even if it contemplates alternatives solutions. The interpretation of energy efficiency in the light of the Luhmannian concept of temporal structures in the modern society is proposed, and two types of expert narratives on the rebound effect are outlined: the mechanistic rebound effect and the systemic Jevons paradox. Finally, we explain why none of them are noticeably reflected in public discourse on energy policy and are limited to the scientific milieu.