Discourse analysis

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Discourse analysis is an umbrella term for the social and humanities analysis of discourse phenomena. There are different approaches to this depending on what is viewed as a discourse .

In general, discourse analysis examines the connection between linguistic action and linguistic form as well as the connection between linguistic action and social, especially institutional structures.

While the social sciences are generally interested in cross-situational orders of the production of meaning, from a linguistic point of view the delimitation of the discourse (as a pragmatic phenomenon) and the text (as the linguistic structure of the discourse, which is examined in text linguistics , among other things ) is remarkable.

Different understandings of "discourse"

  • With his L'ordre du discours (1970), Michel Foucault questioned traditional intellectual history, since the focus of his considerations is not on the knowing subject, but on factual statements that would have brought about modern subjectivity in the first place. However, Foucault did not create a method, but with his theoretical considerations laid the foundations for a new way of thinking, an explicitly positivist research program that is applied and reflected on in literary studies , sociology and increasingly in historical studies .
  • In France, the discourse researcher Michel Pêcheux in particular contributed to promoting the methodological implementation of an empirically oriented discourse analysis. In view of the different schools of ideas, there can be no question of a uniform procedure.
  • Herbert Schnädelbach created a methodical set of instruments for discourse analysis in his major work, Reflection and Discourse (1977). On the level of pragmatic explanations of meaning, Schnädelbach's discourse analysis reconstructs the respective discourse object in the form of sentence-like facts in order to enable the determination of its validity (which Foucault leaves open), also and especially under the (post-) modern conditions of a plurality of discourse .

Discourse analysis

Discourse Analysis in History

The historical discourse analysis assumes a double mediation of history . On the one hand by sources , on the other hand by their presentation (in history books or historical treatises). History is always conveyed by sign systems and is always constructed in that it makes precisely these meaningful (sign) constructions the object of its investigation - in other words: historical events, structures and processes are inseparably linked with their representation. History is only accessible in a mediated form, that is, as "re-presented reality". The discourse analysis thus traces the forms and rules of representation.

Discourse analysis in the social sciences

Social science discourse research examines the rules and regularities of discourse, its possibilities for constructing reality, its anchoring in society and its historical changes. In particular, it asks questions about the social and institutional contexts in which statements of the discourse appear, as well as about the organization of the statements, i.e. according to the principles of their arrangement. The research interest focuses in particular on the existence of the statements. It asks the following questions, for example: Why do these statements occur? Why in this form and in these contexts? Discourse analysis therefore does not intend to understand and interpret a (literary) text in its entirety, such as hermeneutics - whose methods can, however, be used in the research process. The discourse analysis is also concerned with discourse formations ( structures , practices) that can permeate a wide variety of texts.

In contrast to other social science approaches that deal with language (such as the sociology of language or ethnomethodologically sound conversation analysis ), social science discourse analyzes do not aim to examine language use in terms of its socio-structural formations. Furthermore, it is not a question of finding ideal conditions for argumentation processes with reference to the discourse ethics developed by Jürgen Habermas . Rather, the focus is on the institutional regulations of declarative practices and their performative , reality-constituting power.

One perspective of social-scientific discourse research that has received special attention in recent years (also beyond the narrower field of social sciences) is the knowledge-sociological discourse analysis developed by the sociologist Reiner Keller . In doing so, Keller combines fundamental insights from the phenomenologically well-founded, everyday-worldly oriented knowledge theory of Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann with Michel Foucault's discourse theory, in order to examine social practices and processes of communicative construction, transformation and stabilization of symbolic orders and their consequences based on this.

The following aspects are considered in the social science discourse analysis:

  • institutional framework, context (e.g. author, medium, event background)
  • Text "surface" (design, units of meaning, structuring of the topics addressed)
  • linguistic-rhetorical means (analysis of argumentation strategies, implications and allusions , logic and composition, collective symbolism ("imagery"), idioms, vocabulary, style, actors, reference sheets, etc.)
  • Content-related ideological statements: image of man, image of society, ideas of the future, technology, etc.
  • Interpretation : Systematic analytical representation of a discourse fragment after processing the material. The individual elements are related to one another.

Central analysis categories are the discourse strands of discursive events, discourse levels and discourse positions.

Discourse Analysis in Linguistics

Dominique Maingueneau , a representative of a linguistic discourse analysis in France, describes four characteristics of a discourse analysis based on Foucault :

  1. Place: historical, social, cultural starting point of a series of similar statements, the “place of legitimate speaking” ( institutionalization of a situation, e.g. insanity in the context of psychiatry ). The place is closely linked to power, since it is mostly also a place "which a subject has to occupy if it wants to say something in the context of a discourse that is supposed to be truth" .
  2. Inscription: utterances only become statements through the repetition of similar utterances, because through repetition, the interconnected statements generate an ordering scheme or a discursive regularity.
  3. Boundaries and interdiscourses : A discourse is always characterized by its limitations, ie by prohibitions, exclusions (of the sayable, visible). At the same time, connections to other discourses, e.g. B. through collective symbols (= discursive elements that occur at a certain time in many discourses, they serve as a source of evidence and interpretability).
  4. Archive : The three previous elements construct the archive. "Only on the basis of this archive can one then make substantive statements about how discourses produce the social world of what is designated in its historical specificity."

Such a discourse analysis further describes:

  • the discourse-immanent order
  • mediality (each medium has its own inherent forms of representation.)
  • the polysemy of language.

The form of discourse analysis is particularly linked to Michel Foucault's remarks on statements and expressions in the Archeology of Knowledge (1969) , but also to Foucault's inaugural lecture The Order of Discourse, given in 1970 at the Collège de France .

More theories and concepts

On individual aspects

The analysis of conversations and public discourses can fall back on the following concepts in individual aspects:

Related concepts

See also


  • Johannes Angermüller , Katharina Bunzmann, Martin Nonhoff (eds.): Discourse analysis: theories, methods, applications. Hamburg 2001. ISBN 3-88619-286-5
  • Johannes Angermuller, Martin Nonhoff, Eva Herschinger, Felicitas Macgilchrist, Martin Reisigl, Juliette Wedl, Daniel Wrana, Daniel, Alexander Ziem (eds.): Discourse research. An interdisciplinary manual. Volume I: Theories, Methodologies, and Controversies. Volume II: Methods and Analytical Practice. Perspectives on university reform discourses. Bielefeld 2014: transcript, ISBN 978-3-8376-2722-0 .
  • Johannes Angermuller, Maingueneau, Dominique, Wodak, Ruth (Eds.): The Discourse Studies Reader. Main Currents in Theory and Analysis. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamin 2014, ISBN 978-9-027-21211-5 .
  • Johannes Angermuller: Poststructuralist Discourse Analysis. Subjectivity in Enunciative Pragmatics. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
  • Klaus-Michael Bogdal : Historical discourse analysis of literature. Theory, fields of work, analyzes, mediation, Opladen 1999. ISBN 3-531-13316-0
  • Rainer Diaz-Bone : Problems and strategies of operationalizing the discourse model following Michel Foucault . In: Hannelore Bublitz u. a. (Ed.): The proliferation of discourses . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1999: pp. 119–135.
  • Andrea D. Bührmann, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Encarnación Guitérrez Rodriguez, Gavin Kendall, Werner Schneider & Francisco J. Tirado (eds.): Discourse analysis in the social sciences . (= Special Issue from HSR Vol. 33, 2008, No. 1).
  • Robert Feustel, Maximilian Schochow (Hrsg.): Between language game and method. Perspectives of Discourse Analysis. Bielefeld 2010. ISBN 978-3-8376-1429-9
  • Michel Foucault : The archeology of knowledge . Frankfurt am Main 1973.
  • Michel Foucault: The order of the discourse . 6th edition, Frankfurt am Main 2001.
  • Clemens Kammler: Historical discourse analysis (Michel Foucault) . In: Klaus-Michael Bogdal (ed.): New literary theories. An introduction . Opladen 1990: pp. 31-55.
  • Siegfried Jäger : Critical Discourse Analysis. An introduction . 5th edition, Unrast, Münster 2009, ISBN 3-89771-732-8 .
  • Reiner Keller : Discourse Research. An introduction for social scientists. 4th edition, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 3-8100-3789-3 .
  • Reiner Keller: Knowledge-sociological discourse analysis - laying the foundations for a research program . 3rd edition, Wiesbaden 2011.
  • Reiner Keller, Andreas Hirseland, Werner Schneider, Willy Viehöver (eds.): Handbook of social science discourse analysis. Vol. 1: Theories and Methods. 3rd expanded edition. Wiesbaden 2011; Vol. 2: Research Practice. 4th edition. Wiesbaden 2011.
  • Reiner Keller, Andreas Hirseland, Werner Schneider, Willy Viehöver (eds.): The discursive construction of reality. On the relationship between the sociology of knowledge and discourse research. Constance 2005.
  • Antje Langer, Daniel Wrana: Discourse Analysis and Discourse Research. In: Barbara Friebertshäuser, Antje Langer, Annedore Prengel (eds.): Handbook of qualitative research methods in educational science. Munich 2010, 3rd ext. Ed., Pp. 335-349.
  • Matthias Lemke , Gregor Wiedemann (ed.): Text mining in the social sciences. Basics and applications between qualitative and quantitative discourse analysis. 1st edition, Wiesbaden 2015. ISBN 978-3-658-07223-0
  • Achim Landwehr : History of the Sayable: Introduction to Historical Discourse Analysis , Tübingen: ed.diskord 2001.
  • Jens Maeße (ed.): Economy, Discourse, Government. Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Wiesbaden, transcript, 2013.
  • Philipp Sarasin : History and Discourse Analysis. Frankfurt am Main 2003.
  • Peter Ullrich : discourse analysis, discourse research, discourse theory. Insight and overview. In: Ulrike Freikamp, ​​Matthias Leanza, Janne Mende, Stefan Müller, Peter Ullrich, Heinz-Jürgen Voss (eds.): Criticism with method? Research methods and social criticism, Berlin 2008: pp. 19–32. PDF; 1.15 MB .
  • Ingo Warnke, Jürgen Spitzmüller (Hrsg.): Methods of discourse linguistics. Linguistic approaches to the transtextual level . Berlin [u. a.] 2008.
  • Simone Winko: Discourse Analysis, Discourse History , In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold, Heinrich Detering (Hrsg.): Grundzüge der Literaturwissenschaft, Munich 1996, pp. 463–478.
  • Daniel Wrana / Ziem, Alexander / Reisigl, Martin / Nonhoff, Martin / Angermuller, Johannes (eds.): DiskursNetz . Dictionary of interdisciplinary discourse research. Berlin: Suhrkamp 2014, ISBN 978-3-518-29697-4 .
  • Peter Schöttler : After fear. History before and after the “linguistic turn” . Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2018, ISBN 978-3-89691-293-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Dominique Maingueneau: Que cherchent les analystes du discours? , in: Argumentation et Analyze du Discours, 9, 2012, paras. 8–12.
  2. See e.g. B. Jürgen Habermas: The new confusion. Small political writings V . Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 202.
  3. See Reiner Keller (sociologist): Discourse research. An introduction for social scientists . 4th edition. Wiesbaden 2011, p. 8.
  4. See Reiner Keller: Knowledge-sociological discourse analysis. Foundation of a research program . 3. Edition. Wiesbaden 2011.
  5. See Peter L. Berger / Thomas Luckmann: The social construction of reality. A theory of the sociology of knowledge . Frankfurt a. Main 1980.
  6. See Siegfried Jäger: Critical Discourse Analysis. An introduction. 4th edition, Münster 2004.
  7. ^ Dominique Maingueneau: L'analysis du discours. Introduction aux lectures du discours. Paris 1991. Quoted in: Reiner Keller: Knowledge-sociological discourse analysis. Foundation of a research program. 2nd edition, Wiesbaden 2008: p. 136.
  8. ^ Philipp Sarasin: History and discourse analysis. Frankfurt am Main 2003: p. 34.
  9. ^ Philipp Sarasin: History and discourse analysis. Frankfurt am Main 2003: p. 35.