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Fairclough, N. "Critical discourse analysis and change in management discourse and ideology: atransdisciplinary approach to strategic critique"

Fairclough, N. "Critical discourse analysis and change in management discourse and ideology: atransdisciplinary approach to strategic critique"

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Published by Melonie A. Fullick
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Published by: Melonie A. Fullick on Oct 23, 2011
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Critical discourse analysis and change in management discourse and ideology: atransdisciplinary approach to strategic critique
 Norman Fairclough, Lancaster UniversityMy objective in this paper is to develop a particular approach to interdisciplinary researchinvolving critical discourse analysis (henceforth CDA) on the one hand and other disciplinary areasand theories on the other, which I call ‘transdisciplinary’. A transdisciplinary approach brings intofocus ways in which theories, methodologies, disciplines, paradigms, traditions etc might beenhanced and developed through dialogue with others in interdisciplinary research - ‘how a dialogue between two disciplines or frameworks may lead to a development of both through a process of eachinternally appropriating the logic of the other as a resource for its own development’ (Chiapello &Fairclough 2002). I shall refer to the transdisciplinary dialogue between CDA and the NewSociology of Capitalism initiated in the Chiapello & Fairclough paper, but I shall extend it by linkingit with the dialogue between CDA and a particular version of political economy initiated in Jessop(2002). My purpose in doing so is to argue on the one hand that changes in management andorganization are productively researched from the perspective of strategies in Jessop’s sense andstrategic critique, and on the other hand that transdisciplinary dialogue between this version of  political economy and CDA points the latter in the direction of a strategic (as opposed to bothideological and rhetorical) critique of discourse and of texts which better enables it to enhance anddevelop the discourse analytical element which is already present in Jessop’s critique of politicaleconomy. This is not a matter of eclectically grafting categories of one theory or method ontoanother, it is a matter of using the logic of another disciplinary area or theory as a resource for thinking in the development of the categories of one’s own theory and methodology. For instance,categories such as ‘strategy’ (specifically, ‘discursive strategy’ – Wodak 2001) and ‘genre’ alreadyexist within CDA, it is a matter of drawing upon theorizations of strategy in work such as Jessop’s inextending one’s thinking about and theorisation of and methodological operationalization of suchcategories. I shall concretize the argument with some analysis of extracts from the same book whichwas used for illustrative purposes in Chiapello & Fairclough (2002) – a management ‘guru text byRosabeth Moss Kanter (Kanter 2001).
Discourse in social research on change
My particular area of concern both in this paper and in my recent research more generally iswith discourse as an element or ‘moment’ of processes of social change, how discourse figureswithin such processes in relation to other elements or moments, and what constitutive or  performative effects discourse may have, under what conditions, upon these other (non-discursive)elements or moments. This broad concern with discourse as a facet of social change is present in agreat deal of contemporary social research. In attempting to open up transdisciplinary dialogue between CDA and such research one is therefore usually in the position of continuing a dialoguewhich is already going on. There are of course many theories and methods which can be subsumedunder ‘discourse analysis’, and even ‘critical discourse analysis’. The interest of the particulaversion of CDA I now work with in transdisciplinary dialogue is on the one hand in convincingcolleagues in other areas and fields that it is better equipped to help them enrich the discourseanalytical aspect of their research than other versions of (C )DA, and on the other hand tocontinuously develop its capacity to contribute to social research through rethinking its theoreticalcategories and methodologies in transdisciplinary dialogue with others.Let me frame the more focused attention to New Sociology of Capitalism and Jessop’s political economy below with some rather summary comments from the perspective of my version of CDA on the strengths and limitations of the ways in which this and some other work in socialresearch addresses discourse. Bourdieu & Wacquant, in a series of popular and politically-orientedinterventions (2001), have presented neo-liberalism as a political project or strategy oriented toremoving obstacles to the full implementation of the new ‘global economy’. Neo-liberal discourse is1
significant resource in the pursuit of this strategy – they point to the ‘performative power’ of the‘new planetary vulgate’, its power to ‘bring into being the very realities it describes’, its power at thesame time to make a contingent set of policy choices appear to be a matter of inexorable andirreversible world change. This work is remarkable in highlighting the absolute importance of discourse and language in the transformations of ‘globalization’ and the new capitalism, but itsimpact is somewhat lessened because they do not have the analytical resources to show
theslippage between description and creation (‘bringing into being’) is pervasively effected incontemporary policy and other texts, or 
the contingent is textually construed as necessary
Their account of the ‘new planetary vulgate’ goes no further than a list of keywords.Jessop (2002) presents CDA as one of a number of central theoretical elements out of whichhe has developed his own version of political economy. More recently he has begun to use the term‘cultural political economy’, partly to capture the theoretical and methodological integration of discourse. One can get a sense of how discourse figures in cultural political economy from hisdiscussion of crisis. He views structural change in moments of crisis as mediated by hegemonicstruggle between strategies which have a partly semiotic character discourses which projectimaginaries for a new ‘fix’ in the co-regulation of regimes of accumulation and political regimes.The development, dissemination and instantiation/materialization of strategies are partly semiotic processes. This explicit dialogue with CDA on the part of a major theorist of the state is a significantadvance for transdisciplinary research. But as in much social theory, discourse in the abstract sense(or what I call below ‘semiosis’, signification as a moment of the social in a general sense) isreduced to particular discourses, ie to merely matters of representation. Yet discourse in the abstractsense subsumes processes of acting, relating and identifying as well as processes of representing, andtherefore other categories are needed in addition to ‘discourses’ – certainly ‘genres’ (ways of actingand relating), and I would suggest ‘styles’ (ways of being, identities), and possibly others. Thesecategories are essential for accounts of social change. For example, the success of the strategies andassociated discourses Jessop refers to depends upon the powers of dissemination andrecontextualization of social agents, which semiotically includes powers with respect to genres, powers for instance with respect to genres of media and mediation such as those of advertising, aswell as with respect to styles.Another extremely fruitful dialogue between discourse analysis and political economy is to be found in Harvey’s work (especially Harvey 1996). Harvey’s main contribution is to elaborate thedialectics of discourse – the dialectical relations between discourse and other elements or momentsof the social. I draw upon this elaboration in the brief presentation below of a (dialectical-relational)version of CDA. It is striking by contrast that in a recent study of the ‘new imperialism’ (ie USimperialism) – which is admittedly a series of lectures directed at a non-specialist audience – Harveysays nothing about discourse or the dialectics of discourse, but does discuss the ‘rhetoric’ of the newimperialism. I am sure that Harvey would recognize a difference between discourse and rhetoric, andthere is a distinction drawn between them in Jessop’s book. But it is noteworthy that it often seemssomewhat arbitrary whether semiosis is addressed as discourse or as rhetoric in social research, as if these were one and the same thing. I shall differentiate them below.Boltanski & Chiapello (1999) argue, on the basis on a comparative analysis of corpora of management studies texts from the 1960s and 1990s, that the historical transformations of capitalismentail changes in ‘the spirit of capitalism’, the ideology which justifies people’s commitment to it.The spirit of capitalism both legitimizes and constrains the process of accumulation. It indicates (a)what is ‘stimulating’ (liberating etc) about capitalism; (b) what forms of security it offers, (c) what is just or fair about it. A new spirit of capitalism began to emerge with the recent transformations of capitalism in the 1980s, developing through a selective appropriation of elements of the 1960s-1970scritique of its predecessor, specifically the critique of bureaucracy and hierarchy. The ‘fairness’dimension of the spirit of capitalism is explicated through the category of ‘justificatory regime’ (‘citéin French). Justificatory regimes can be specified in terms of (a) a principle of equivalence or 2
‘general standard’ according to which all relevant actions, things and persons can be evaluated; (b) astate of greatness – the ‘great one’ embodies the regime’s values, the ‘small one’ lacks them; (c) aformat of investment, linking greatness to sacrifice, (d) a paradigmatic test which best reveals a person’s greatness. Several justificatory regimes co-exist in a spirit of capitalism, and the new spiritof capitalism includes a new ‘Project-oriented’ justificatory regime appropriate to organization interms of networks (in which activity is structured around short-term projects involving shiftingnetworks) which is combined especially with the pre-existing ‘Inspirational’ regime. The Project-oriented regime’s equivalency principle includes project initiation and networking, its state of smallness includes reliance on roots, rigidity, inability to get involved, its state of greatness includesadapability, flexibility, sincerity in face-to-face interaction, capacity to generate enthusiasm, itsformat of investment is readiness to sacrifice one’s private life and longterm plans for the company,its paradigmatic test is ability to move from project to project.Although the Boltanski & Chiapello study is based upon analysis of bodies of texts, it ismainly a limited form of thematic analysis centred upon identifying pre-established categories(including the justificatory regimes). It is thus typical of much social research in having rich textualdata from which it derives rather limited research results. One objective of Chiapello & Fairclough(2002) was to explore how a transdiscipinary dialogue between CDA and New Sociology of Capitalism might help the latter to enrich its analysis of the processes and change it is concernedwith in the textual materials in its research base. We approached this by conceptualizing a ‘spirit of capitalism’ in CDA terms as an order of discourse, whose justificatory regimes are Discourses (witha big ‘d’), realized as articulations of discourses (with a small ‘d’), and dialectically enacted in‘action models’ (eg tests) which are in part genres, and inculcated the styles of the ‘great’ and ‘small’ones.In these various cases, then, transdisciplinarity is a matter of developing a dialogue whichalready exists between discourse and text analysis and other forms of analysis with a view toenhancing analysis of discourse and text as a facet of social analysis, but also with a view totheoretically and methodologically enhancing CDA.3

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