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Laclau and Mouffes Discourse Theory and Faircloughs Critical Discourse Analysis: An Introduction and Comparison


David Rear School of Arts and Sciences Shibaura Institute of Technology

Introduction This paper is taken from a wider study on discourses of education policy and work skills in twenty-first century Japan. In the field of Japanese education policymaking, there are clearly delineated interest groups, with identifiable discourses, which leads to the potential for discursive struggle within individual policy texts. Likewise, in the terrain of work skills, there are a number of different discourses traditional, post-materialist, global which might compete to define reality within modern Japanese corporations. In order to gain a better theoretical understanding of the nature, significance and potential consequences of discursive struggle, the study draws upon two major theoretical approaches: the Discourse Theory (DT) of Laclau and Mouffe (1985) and the Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1995 etc.). This paper begins with a brief exploration of Discourse Theory, laying a particular emphasis on the constructs Laclau and Mouffe introduce that can be utilised in the discursive analysis of texts, such as nodal points, floating signifiers and elements / moments. It also discusses the highly influential concept of hegemony, which Laclau and Mouffe borrow and develop from the post-Marxist writings of Antonio Gramsci (1971). It then moves on to a discussion of identity within Discourse Theory, introducing the concepts of myth and social imaginary. The second half of the paper introduces the textually-oriented Critical Discourse Analysis of Fairclough. Fairclough provides a systematic framework for connecting the micro-analysis of

texts with the macro-level discourses circulating within society as a whole by working through the three dimensions of text, discursive practice and social practice. Of particular use and significance are the concepts of intertextuality and interdiscursivity (Kristeva, 1986; Fairclough, 1992; Candlin & Maley, 1997; Candlin, 2006; Bhatia, 2010), which act as an analytical bridge between text and discourse. While the assumptions of CDA fundamentally differ from those of Discourse Theory in terms of the degree to which social reality is seen to be accessible outside the medium of discourse, some of the analytical constructs introduced by Laclau and Mouffe are compatible with Faircloughs CDA. Indeed, in his work with Chouliaraki, Fairclough himself explicitly advocates the use of Discourse Theory terms such as articulation and equivalence / difference, and acknowledges the value of Laclau and Mouffes theorisation of discursive struggle and hegemony (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999). It will be argued that several of Laclau and Mouffes major concepts can be put to use effectively in combination with Fairclough s constructs of intertextuality and interdiscursivity, which provide the practical analytical framework that Discourse Theory itself lacks.

The Discourse Theory of Laclau and Mouffe

Overview The following section will introduce the Discourse Theory of Laclau and Mouffe. In doing so, it will draw mainly on their book Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985) plus other works written by Laclau or Mouffe individually (for example, Laclau, 1990, 1993, 1996; Mouffe, 1993, 2008) and on commentaries on their work by Phillips and Jorgensen (2002), Howarth et al. (2000), Torfing (1999), and Sjolander and Payne (2011). It will also bring in other social theorists, such as Gramsci (1971), Foucault (1972, 1984), and iek (1989, 1994) whose works complement (if on some points diverge from) those of Laclau and Mouffe. The aim of this section is not to delve into the complex deconstructionist approach that led to the formation of Laclau and Mouffes critique of Marxist thought, but to outline in somewhat simplified form the theory of discourse they arrived at and, more importantly, to introduce some of its concepts, especially those which can be operationalised in the discursive analysis of texts. It is divided into four main parts: the social theory behind Laclau and Mouffes work; the analytical concepts they introduce; their theory of

hegemony and hegemonic intevention; and finally their theory of identity, myth and social imaginaries.

A Social Theory of Discourse The foundation of Discourse Theory is a combination of post-Marxist social thought and post-Saussurian linguistics, which Laclau and Mouffe fuse together into a single all-encompassing theory of the social world (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). As post-Marxists, they critique the strict Marxist division between material economic conditions and the ownership of the means of production within society (the material-economic base) and the meaning-producing cultural and political institutions of the state, judiciary, church, media and education system (referred to as the superstructure). Whereas under the historical materialism of Karl Marx, the base was viewed as being entirely determinant of the superstructure, with peoples consciousness created by the economic structure of society, post-Marxist theorists such as Gramsci (1971) softened this stance to account for the ability of groups, such as the working-classes, to recognise their own oppressed position within society and begin to work against it politically. Gramsci argued that the dominant classes within society use discursive processes within the superstructure to manufacture popular consent for the unequal distribution of power and wealth, and used the term hegemony to describe this discursive construction of consciousness and identity. The concept of hegemony implies that the superstructure is more than a simple reflection of material reality in that it may contribute to the creation of social reality itself, even if ultimately the base is the determinant of peoples interests and class. In Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, Laclau and Mouffe take Gramscis ideas further by dissolving entirely the division of society into base and superstructure, something that Gramsci himself did not do (and which has led to some critics arguing that Laclau and Mouffe are not Marxists in the true sense at all). For Laclau and Mouffe, there is no objective material reality, or base, that divides groups of people into classes; rather, the groups that exist in society are all the result of political, discursive processes Politics has primacy, as Laclau (1990: 33) described it. This is not to say, of course, that external reality has no independent existence. However, our perception of reality and of the character of real objects is mediated entirely by discourse. We, as human beings, enter a world already composed of discourses and cannot conceive of objects outside it. For this reason, the discursive and non-discursive worlds (the superstructure and the base, to put it another way) cannot be separated. As Laclau and Mouffe (1985: 108) write:

The fact that every object is constituted as an object of discourse has nothing to do with whether there is a world external to thought, or with the realism/idealism opposition. An earthquake or the falling of a brick is an event that certainly exists, in the sense that it occurs here and now, independently of my will. But whether their specificity as objects is constructed in terms of natural phenomena or expressions of the wrath of God, depends upon the structuring of a discursive field. What is denied is not that such objects exist externally to thought, but the rather different assertion that they could constitute themselves as objects outside any discursive conditions of emergence.

This position is different, of course from that of Critical Discourse Analysis, which will be described below. It is also different from the approach taken by this study, which theorises discourse in the same sense as Fairclough and other CDA researchers. Nevertheless, even if we do not accept this ontological position adopted by Laclau and Mouffe, there are still important aspects of their theory that critical discourse analysts can profitably make use of. The most crucial aspect of Discourse Theory for our purposes is the idea that, since all social phenomena are mediated through discourse, their meanings can never be permanently fixed. A broad array of discourses, each structuring reality in a different way, compete to define what is true within a particular aspect of the social world. Peoples understanding of these aspects (often termed terrains or domains) is contingent upon the ongoing struggle between discourses, with perceptions of society and identity always open to new representations as meanings are constantly altered and reconfigured through contact with competing discourses. The aim of discourse analysis, then, is not to discover the truth about reality (for example, to find out which groups exist within society) but to describe how discursive struggle constructs this reality (for example, how people and groups perceive their identity within society) so that it appears natural and neutral. This idea brings Discourse Theory close to the genealogical project of Foucault (1984), who argued that the task of the genealogist was to immerse oneself in the myriad of power struggles that shape historical forms of discourse (Torfing, 1999). If social reality is constituted by an ongoing struggle over meaning, we need a set of conceptual tools with which this struggle can be described. For this, Laclau and Mouffe turn to the theory of meaning drawn from the structural linguistics of Saussure (1960), which they modify in line with the post-structuralist view of language as alterable through the day-to-day interactions of social actors. As Phillips and Jorgensen (2002: 25) argue, the structuralist view of language can be illuminated with the metaphor of a fishing-net. The basic unit of language is the sign, which

arbitrarily joins a particular sound-image (the signifier) with a particular concept (the signified). Signs derive their meaning from their difference from one another; they are, in a sense, like knots within a fishing-net fixed into a certain position in relation to all the other knots. Laclau and Mouffe, like other post-structuralists, argue against the study of language as a fundamentally synchronic entity, since (in terms of the metaphor) signs cannot be fixed definitively into position. Through the use of language (la parole, as Saussure termed it, as opposed to la langue, the object of study in structural linguistics), the position of signs is always up for negotiation, and it is this constant negotiation of meaning that accounts for the contingency of discourses, and therefore social life itself. Despite their rejection of Saussurian principles, however, Laclau and Mouffe retain the notion that signs in la parole strive to acquire fixed meaning from their relation to one another. They argue that, although this is ultimately impossible, discourses attempt to fix signs into certain positions in a similar sense to that suggested by Saussure. Discourse analysis as understood here attempts to map out the processes by which the meaning of signs can become relatively fixed (and unfixed), and Laclau and Mouffes Discourse Theory introduces analytical concepts with which these processes can be analysed and described.

Key Analytical Concepts The first concept that must be considered in the work of Laclau and Mouffe is that of discourse itself. For Laclau and Mouffe, a discourse is an attempt to fix a web of meanings within a particular domain. The constitution of a discourse involves the structuring of signifiers into certain meanings to the exclusion of other meanings. It is a reduction of possibilities, and thus can be seen as an exercise of power (Howarth & Stavrakakis, 2000). All other possible meanings excluded by a particular discourse constitute the field of discursivity. Thus:

Any discourse is constituted as an attempt to dominate the field of discursivity, to arrest the flow of differences, to construct a centre (Laclau & Mouffe, [1985] 2001: 112).

Since no discourse can fix a web of meanings completely or permanently, the field of discursivity makes possible the articulation of a multiplicity of competing discourses (Torfing, 1999). A signifier that is allocated a certain meaning in one discourse may be given another meaning in a different discourse, and since signs derive their meaning from their relation to one

another, all other signs within the discourse will be configured differently as a result1. Discourses attempt to fix webs of meaning through the constitution of nodal points. Nodal points organise the discourse around a central privileged signifier or reference point points de caption as Lacan (1977) termed them. They bind together a particular system of meanings or chain of signification, assigning meanings to other signifiers within that discourse. For example, in communist ideology and discourse, the signifier communism is a nodal point that binds together other pre-existing signifiers such as democracy, state, and freedom, rearticulating them into new meanings different from those used in competing discourses (iek, 1989, Howarth & Stavrakakis, 2000). Democracy acquires the meaning of real democracy as opposed to democracy based on class oppression, freedom is given an economic connotation, and the state acquires a new set of functions and roles. According to iek, a nodal point is not simply the richest word, the word in which is condensed all the richness of meaning of the field it quilts, [it] is rather the word which, as a word, on the level of the signifier itself, unifies a given field, constitutes its identity (iek, 1989: 95). In and of itself, a nodal point possesses no density of meaning quite the opposite, it is, in ieks words, an empty signifier, a pure signifer without the signified (iek, 1989: 97). It only acquires meaning through its positioning relative to other signs. This positioning happens through articulation. Articulation is any practice establishing a relation among elements such that their identity is modified as a result of the articulatory practice, while a discourse is the structured totality resulting from this articulatory practice (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985: 105). An element in this sense is a sign within the discourse whose meaning has not yet been fixed. Through articulation, a discourse establishes a closure, a temporary halt to the fluctuations of meaning of elements. Signs that have had their meaning fixed by a discourse are called moments. This closure is, however, never permanent: the transition from the elements to the moments is never entirely fulfilled (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985: 110). Elements which are particularly open to different ascriptions of meaning are known as floating signifiers. Nodal points themselves can be thought of as floating signifiers, but, as Phillips and Jorgensen (2002: 28) explain, whereas the term nodal point refers

Phillips and Jorgensen (2002) argue that the field of discursivity is too broad a concept for practical use, since no theoretical distinction is made between the exclusion of meaning from discourses directly in struggle with one another and those that are not. For example, discourses of clinical medicine may be said to compete with discourses of alternative treatment in the terrain of health and illness; they do not, however, compete with discourses of football, though they may share certain signs. Phillips and Jorgensen advocate, therefore, the use of the term order of discourse, employed by Fairclough in a slightly different sense, to denote the limited range of discourses which struggle in the same terrain. This is a useful analytical distinction, though as Phillips and Jorgensen make clear, we must be wary of delimiting the order of discourse a priori to beginning a discursive analysis of texts.

to a point of crystallisation within a specific discourse, the term floating signifier belongs to the ongoing struggle between different discourses to fix the meaning of signs. In the example they provide, the word body is a nodal point in the discourse of clinical medicine and a floating signifier in the struggle between the discourse of clinical medicine and the discourse of alternative treatment.

Hegemony and Hegemonic Interventions The representation of discourse as a structuring of meaning within a particular terrain leads Laclau and Mouffe to their concept of hegemony, a concept introduced by Gramsci (1971), which has been taken up by many other researchers working within the field of discourse analysis (particularly CDA). Hegemony is, following Gramsci (1971), social consensus achieved without recourse to violence or coercion, and, like discursive closure, it is achieved through articulation. In Discourse Theory terms, we can say hegemony is the expansion of a discourse, or set of discourses, into a dominant horizon of social orientation and action by means of articulating unfixed elements into partially fixed moments in a context crisscrossed by antagonistic forces (Torfing, 1999: 101). Unlike Gramsci, Laclau and Mouffe do not view society as a single field of hegemonic struggle. Hegemonic struggle takes place over and within many domains of social life, not only those of class. This opens up the concept to include struggles over a variety of social relations, such as those of gender. When discourses successfully become hegemonic, the social practices they structure can appear so natural that members of a society fail to see that they are the result of political hegemonic practices. Discourses then reach the level of common sense, in that their origins and intrinsic contingency are forgotten (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985; Deetz, 1992):

The practices of articulation through which a given order is created and the meaning of social institutions is fixed, are what we call hegemonic practices. What is at a given moment accepted as the natural order, jointly with the common sense that accompanies it, is the result of sedimented hegemonic practices (Mouffe, 2008: 4).

Discourses whose contingency has become invisible are called objective in Discourse Theory. Phillips and Jorgensen (2002) provide the example of how modern Western societies view as a matter of common sense the treatment and understanding of children as a group with distinctive characteristics. However, just a few hundred years ago, children were regarded quite differently as

small adults and were treated accordingly. The fact that our view of children has been constituted through historical struggles over meaning has long been forgotten, and thus this view and the discourse that grounds it may be termed objective. Objectivity notwithstanding, however, no discourse is capable of completely hegemonising a field of discursivity, and thus the domination of a particular discourse is never complete or permanent. As Mouffe (2008: 4) puts it, every hegemonic order is susceptible of being challenged by counter-hegemonic practices which attempt to disarticulate it in order to install another form of hegemony. Such counter-hegemonic practices may occur naturally through day-to-day communicative practices which challenge or transform existing discourses, or they may be instigated as a deliberate and strategic act by interest groups as an overt or covert struggle for discursive dominance (Grant et al, 1998: 7-8). When two or more antagonistic discourses compete for hegemony within a specific terrain, conflicting demands are made upon social identities, relationships and systems of knowledge and belief (Foucault, 1972). Antagonisms may be visible through the presence of elements that are articulated in different ways by opposing political projects. They may be resolved, albeit temporarily, through hegemonic interventions (Gramsci, 1971; Laclau & Mouffe, 1985), concerted efforts to re-articulate discourses and achieve the dominance of one particular perspective, thus reconstituting unambiguity (Laclau, 1993). To do this, hegemonic projects will need to construct and stablise the nodal points that structure social orders by articulating elements i.e. floating signifiers into one unambiguous set of meanings (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). Ideology also plays a crucial role in the construction of hegemony. Laclau and Mouffe reject the Marxist view of ideology as false consciousness since we cannot access the real world except through discursive systems of representation. For them, ideology and objective discourses are indistinguishable, since they both seek to hide the political processes by which a social order is made to seem normal or unchallengable. Ideology, then, is the non-recognition of the precarious character of any positivity, of the impossibility of any ultimate suture (Laclau, 1990: 92). It is constituted in discourse that aims to construct society as a decideable discursive form within a totalising horizon, projecting on to it an impossible fullness. It is, in other words, the will to totality of any totalizing discourse (Laclau, 1990: 92). In the modern post-ideological world, iek (1989) argues that, despite the ironical distance that people place between themselves and totalising ideological representations, ideologies continue to function through everyday social actions which act out and reproduce those

representations regardless of our knowledge of their distortedness. He described this behaviour as ideological fantasy:

They know very well how things really are, but still they are doing it as if they did not know. The illusion is therefore double: it consists in overlooking the illusion which is structuring our real, effective relationship to reality. And this overlooked, unconscious illusion may be called the ideological fantasy (iek, 1989: 32-3).

ieks standard example is the use that people routinely make of money as the primary form of wealth, even though they are aware that in of itself it has no intrinsic material value. Torfing (1999) provides more examples, such as the way we allow ourselves to accept and be inspired by advertisements, despite the knowledge that they are highly and deliberately manipulative.

Identity, Myths and Social Imaginaries For their theory of identity, Laclau and Mouffe build on the work of Althusser (1971) and Lacan (1977). From Althusser, they borrow the post-Marxist concept of interpellation. Althusser argued that, rather than being fully autonomous and self-conscious, individuals are placed (or interpellated) into certain subject positions by ideology via superstructural institutions like the education system, the media, and the family. Laclau and Mouffe, while dismissing the role played in Althusser s ideas by economic determinism, take the concept of interpellation and import into it the psychoanalytic theory of Lacan, which describes subjects as fundamentally fragmented or split, constantly striving to become whole. Subjects are not interpellated in only one specific way, but are ascribed different positions by many temporary, contingent perhaps competing and contradictory discourses. Identity comes from identification with certain subject positions, conceived by Lacan as master signifiers and by Laclau and Mouffe as nodal points of identity. While these nodal points are empty signifiers, they are given meaning through chains of equivalence that link together signifiers and establish identity relationally. Chains of equivalence play a crucial role in the formation of group identity, which is related to another of the important concepts introduced in Discourse Theory: that of myth. A myth is a complex type of floating signifier that seeks to construct society as a totality with a positive and fully sutured identity (it is, therefore, ideological by Laclaus definition of the term). According to Laclau (1990), a myth emerges at times of dislocation when events occur that cannot be symbolised and integrated into existing discourses, thus causing their destabilisation. The formation of a myth

is an attempt to overcome the dislocation by suturing the dislocated space into a new structure. It is, therefore, fundamentally hegemonic, since it involves forming a new objectivity by means of the rearticulation of the dislocated elements (Laclau, 1990: 61). While the concrete or literal meaning of the myth might include a vision of ideal social order such as Marxism or the market the term myth may be applied to any floating signifier that refers to society as a decidable totality (an impossible aspiration in Discourse Theory). This would include signifiers such as the country, the people, Europe and so on. Myths in themselves, like nodal points, are essentially devoid of meaning, and thus can function as a surface of inscription for a variety of social demands and dislocations. When a myth succeeds in neutralising social dislocations and constitutes the hegemony of one particular vision of social order, it can be said to have reached the level of a social imaginary, defined by Laclau (1990: 63) as a horizon or absolute limit which structures a field of intelligibility. The difference between myth and social imaginary may be seen in terms of Laclaus reformulation of the Gramscian concept of hegemony. Gramsci stated that the working classes could only become hegemonic if they went beyond the economic-corporate struggles of class and took into account the interests of other social groups, incorporating them into a single vision of society. Accordingly, Laclau (1996) argues that myths operate at the level of the interests of a particular group, while social imaginaries occur when a group is able to move beyond its interests on to a universal terrain. Social imaginaries are constituted through what Laclau and Mouffe termed the logic of equivalence, which can be contrasted with its conceptual opposite the logic of difference. The logic of equivalence serves to dissolve the boundaries between social groups or different interests by relating them to a common project and by establishing a frontier to define the forces to be opposed, the enemy (Mouffe, 1993: 50). The construction of national identity is a classic example of this. The constitution of what has been termed imagined communities (Anderson, 1983) takes place not around a shared essential quality but around an empty nodal point, which represents the pure and perfect but impossible identity of the community, and defines an antagonistic boundary defining their limits (Glasze, 2007: 662). Through contrast with an alien Them or Other , an otherwise diverse national community can be aggregated into a single collective identity, whose boundary is defined by the presence of the Other, itself discursively constituted with a single identity. Consequently, where the logic of equivalence predominates, social division will tend toward a dichotimisation of political space, a division of the social into two opposing camps (workers versus owners,

communism versus capitalism, the West versus the East). As with all hegemonic discourses, however, even a stable social imaginary is not immutable. The movement from myth to imaginary is reversible: imaginaries that at one point appear to be deeply rooted may be challenged and subverted with surprising ease at another (Norval, 2000: 226). For example, elik (2000) has shown how the well-defined frontier of Kemalism, the dominant identity discourse of modern Turkey, which was articulated around the nodal points of republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism, secularism and revolutionism, became increasingly fragmented during the 1990s in the face of the competing discourses of Islamism, Kurdism, the Green movement and womens rights. This, elik (2000: 201) argues was an example of the transformation of a hegemonic discourse that managed to function as an imaginary horizon, into a discourse struggling for hegemony; a mythical space that strives to survive in the political arena. In the shift from imaginary back to myth, the logic of difference works to dispel the illusion of unity amongst different interests, creating a more complex articulation of elements and making it more difficult to dichotomise social space into two collective groups of Self and Other.

The Critical Discourse Analysis Approach of Fairclough

Overview The following section provides a brief explication of the textually-oriented Critical Discourse Analysis method of Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1995 etc.). In particular, it introduces the important concepts of intertextuality and interdiscursivity (Kristeva, 1986; Fairclough, 1992; Candlin & Maley, 1997; Candlin, 2006; Bhatia, 2010), which this thesis argues (see the following chapter) can be productively combined with the analytical constructs provided by the Discourse Theory of Laclau and Mouffe. The present section begins with an account of the fundamental epistemological differences between CDA and DT, which must, of course, be properly acknowledged before any attempt to combine them is made. It then outlines the basic premises of CDA as a whole, before looking at the concepts of intertextuality and interdiscursivity which are at the heart of Fairclough s analytical framework.

Epistemological Differences between Discourse Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis Before beginning an explication of the analytical constructs of Faircloughs textually-oriented CDA,

it is important to acknowledge the epistemological differences that exist between the basic premises of Laclau and Mouffes Discourse Theory and those of CDA. Fundamentally, while Laclau and Mouffe view the social world as being wholly constituted by discourse, CDA distinguishes between discursive and non-discursive social practices. Viewed on a scale, if the historical materialism of Marxist theory occupied the extreme position of discourse being entirely constituted by economic materialism, Laclau and Mouffe would be at the opposite end, while CDA would be somewhere between the two (Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002: 20). Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999), following Mouzelis (1990), Coombe (1998) and others, have argued that, in emphasising the contingent nature of discourses, Laclau and Mouffe overestimate the ability of social groups to bring about change through the rearticulation of elements into new social orders. Discourse Theory is unable to explain which social forces have greater capacity to effect articulatory changes and why (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999: 125). They maintain that not all groups have equal access to key discourse genres that make such attempts at hegemonic intervention possible. Social actors are subject to constraints that do not emanate from the discursive level but from structural relations of dependency, such as class, ethnicity, and gender. From a similar perspective, iek (1994) and Eagleton (1991) have critiqued the failure of Discourse Theory to provide an account of how political interests are constituted. If social identities are contingent upon discourses, there is no way to explain how the articulation of interests relates to a social actor s social position. It appears wholly coincidental that all capitalists are not also revolutionary socialists (Eagleton, 1991: 215). In critiquing Laclau and Mouffes concept of ideology, Eagleston argues that in Discourse Theory:
there is no raw material on which politics and ideology go to work, since social interests are the product of them, not what they take off from. Politics and ideology thus become purely self-constituting, tautalogical practices. It is impossible to say where they derive from; they simply drop from the skies, like any other transcendal signifier (Eagleton, 1991: 213-4).

Likewise, iek too breaks with Laclau and Mouffe by maintaining the central Marxist proposition that ultimately class and economy are crucial in determining political interests and identities. In CDA, ideology is linked closely to the maintenance of unequal power relations, and thus it is possible to distinguish between discourses that are ideological and those that are not. For Fairclough, ideology is a system of ideas, values and beliefs oriented to explaining a given political

order, legitimizing exisiting hierarchies and power relations and preserving group identities (Chiapello & Fairclough, 2002: 187). Van Dijk (1993, 1995, 2011) sees it as a deliberately manipulative activity, which operates by making use of those structures and strategies that manipulate the mental models of the audience in such a way that preferred social cognitions tend to be developed, that is, social cognitions (attitudes, ideologies, norms and values) that are ultimately in the interest of the dominant group (van Dijk, 1993: 280). For van Dijk, ideology operates on both a discursive and non-discursive level, which corresponds to the overall premise within CDA that the discursive and non-discursive worlds exist in a dialectical relationship, each constituted by and constitutive of the other. Under this conception, discourse is a way of talking about and acting upon the world which both constructs and is constructed by a set of social practices (Candlin & Maley, 1997: 202). As Fairclough writes:

On the one hand, discourse is shaped and constrained by social structure in the widest sense and at all levels: by class and other social relations at a societal level, by the relations specific to particular institutions such as law or education, by systems of classification, by various norms and conventions of both a discursive and non-discursive nature, and so forth..... On the other hand, discourse is socially constitutive.... Discourse contributes to the constitution of all those dimensions of social structure which directly or indirectly shape and constrain it: its own norms and conventions, as well as the relations, identities and institutions which lie behind them. Discourse is a practice not just of representing the world, but of signifying the world, constituting and constructing the world in meaning (Fairclough, 1992: 64).

Discourse itself can be defined in a very general way as language in use or situated text and talk (Hall, 1996), but the term is used within CDA in several more developed senses, as the analysis moves from a micro to a macro perspective. At a macro level, discourses are, following Fairclough (2005), particular ways of representing certain parts or aspects of the physical, social and psychological world. They include political discourses, such as liberal, conservative, or social-democratic, which represent social groups and relations between social groups in a society in different ways (Fairclough, 2005: 925). Such grand or mega discourses have also been called big D discourses (Gee, 1990). At the mid and micro levels, little d discourses draw on big D discourses to produce talk, writing and interaction. One of the aims of CDA is to connect the micro with the macro, that is to uncover the way in which societal level knowledge, assumptions and ideologies affect the detailed way in which we talk, write and interact, and vice versa.


Following Foucault (1972), Fairclough (1992) identifies three aspects of the constructive effects of discourse. Firstly, discourse contributes to the construction of social identities and subject positions, interpellating social actors in a certain way. Secondly, discourse helps to construct social relationships between people. Thirdly, discourse contributes to the construction of systems of knowledge and belief. These three aspects correspond to what, drawing on Halliday (1978, 1994), Fairclough calls the identity, relational and ideational functions of language. He defines them as follows:

The identity function relates to the ways in which social identities are set up in discourse, the relational function to how social relationships between discourse participants are enacted and negotiated, the ideational function to ways in which texts signify the world and its processes, entities and relations (Fairclough, 1992: 64)

Texts, in the broad Hallidayan sense of stretches of spoken or written language (Halliday, 1978), can reproduce, sustain, threaten or overturn dominant or hegemonic notions of identity, social relations or systems of ideas and beliefs, having a genuine physical impact on the social world. Moreover, within texts there can appear evidence of struggle between competing social actors, interest groups and their differing ways of viewing the world. In Fairclough s words, therefore, discourse is not only a site of power struggle, but also a stake in power struggle (Fairclough, 1992: 67), or as Foucault puts, it, discourse is not simply that which translates struggles or systems of domination, but it is the thing for which and by which there is struggle, discourse is the power which is to be seized (Foucault, 1984: 10). What this means is that the study of texts is not merely an exercise in abstract lexico-grammatical description but an analysis of a key tool in the reproduction or reformation of the wider social world. This is particularly true of texts produced in political contexts speeches, policy papers, reports etc. since they are often aimed at achieving the hegemony of a particular point of view with the explicit aim of creating change within other (i.e. non-discursive) aspects of social practice. By exposing the processes by which such hegemonic practices are achieved within texts, critical discourse researchers may, as producers of texts themselves, contribute to the dissolution of those same hegemonic practices.

Principal Tenets of Critical Discourse Analysis This study, while drawing upon the very useful concepts introduced by Laclau and Mouffe, accepts

the gist of the critique of Discourse Theory as laid out above. In epistemological terms, Critical Discourse Analysis seems to offer a more persuasive view of the relationship between discourse and society. Before examining the specific analytical constructs employed by Fairclough in his textually-oriented CDA, it will be useful to provide a brief overview of the CDA approach, including some of its major influences. CDA has been defined in the following way:

discourse analysis which aims to systematically explore often opaque relationships of causality and determination between (a) discursive practices, events and texts, and (b) wider social and cultural structures, relations and processes; to investigate how such practices, events and texts arise out of and are ideologically shaped by relations of power and struggles over power; and to explore how the opacity of these relationships between discourse and society is itself a factor securing power and hegemony (Fairclough, 1993: 135).

Although the precise method of conducting CDA differs between some of its principal architects most notably, the socio-cognitive model of Teun van Dijk (1988, 1991), the discourse-historical model of Ruth Wodak (1996), and the textually-oriented model of Norman Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1995) each method is based on a small set of common features that characterise the approach of CDA as a whole. These can be summarised as follows:


Discourse, as one aspect of social practice, actively contributes to the construction of social reality on a variety of levels, namely: objects of knowledge, social subjects and identities, social relations, and conceptual frameworks.


Discourse has a dialectical relationship with other social dimensions: it is both constitutive and constituted of social reality, both reflecting and shaping social structures.


Discourses are historical and cannot be fully understood outside of their social and historical context.


Discourses are subject to diachronic change. At the same time as they are positioned by discourses, social actors also have the power to transform and hybridise them though agency.


Discourse functions ideologically: it contributes to the creation and reproduction of unequal power relations within society. A principal purpose of CDA is to expose how this is achieved through the detailed examination of texts.


CDA is critical in the sense that it aims to contribute towards a fairer and more just society,

frequently taking the side of oppressed social groups.

Many of the most fundamental concepts used in CDA were derived from the work of Michel Foucault (1972, 1984). In his early archeological studies, Foucault posited the notion that discourse actively constitutes social reality by constructing objects of knowledge, social identities, relationships and conceptual frameworks. He also emphasised the interconnectedness of discourses, showing that texts always draw upon and transform other historical and contemporary texts (Foucault, 1972). It was from this notion that the concepts of intertextuality and interdiscursivity are derived, as explained in more detail below. In his later genealogical work, Foucault made three other observations significant for CDA: the importance of discursive practices in modern technologies of biopower, such as examination and confession; the significance of discursive struggle that takes place both in and over discourse; and the vital role that changing discursive practices has in producing social transformation (Foucault, 1984). Foucault argues that discourse is not the majestically unfolding manifestation of a thinking, knowing, speaking subject (Foucault, 1972: 55); rather, in a process that can be referred to as interpellation, language constructs a social position for the individual and constrains how they speak and act (Althusser, 1971; Foucault, 1972). Social actors do not create reality based on their own individual experiences and strategies. Instead they rely upon collective frames of perceptions, or social representations, which are shared amongst members of a social group, thus forming a core element of their social identity (Durkheim, 1933). No single group or individual has the power to determine the discourse or can precisely intend the final result. Discourses evolve over time and become independent as a result of historical processes. Many critical discourse analysts, while accepting the principal tenets of Foucaults theories, have softened his stance on interpellation by emphasising the power of social actors to resist or transform discourses. Subjects have apparently paradoxical properties of being socially determined, and yet capable of individual creativity; obliged to act discoursally in preconstituted subject positions, yet capable of creatively transforming discourse conventions (Fairclough, 1989: 140). In his studies of media reception, Hall argued that recipients were able to interpret or decode texts differently from the way they were encoded (Hall, 1980). They may question or ridicule attempts to influence their self-perceptions and identities, employing humour (Bolton & Boyd, 2003), counter-narratives (Brown & Humphreys, 2006), and cynicism (Fleming & Spicer, 2003) to contest the discursive practices of hegemonic elites.

Furthermore, while Foucault tended to identify one dominant discourse or knowledge regime in a historical period, many theorists of CDA (and, working in a different tradition, Laclau and Mouffe) present a more conflictual picture in which different discourses exist side by side or struggle for the right to define truth. Under this view, subjects do not become interpellated in just one subject position: different discourses give the subject different, and possibly contradictory, positions from which to speak. Doctors in contemporary neo-liberal societies, for example, often have to juggle their competing roles as both clinicians and managers and, in doing so, may select from two quite differing discourses in their interaction with patients and colleagues (Iedema, 2003). They are, in Barthes words, both masters and slaves of language (Barthe, 1982).

Textually-Oriented Critical Discourse Analysis In several influential works written during the late-1980s and 1990s, such as Language and Power (1989), Discourse and Social Change (1992) and Critical Discourse Analysis (1995), Norman Fairclough introduced a framework for the analysis of texts within a critical discourse tradition. Emphasising the importance of carrying out systematic analyses of spoken or written language (texts), he proposed a three-dimensional framework that could be employed to relate micro instances of language use (communicative events) to wider aspects of social practice. Social practice can be analysed using the construct of order of discourse, which refers to the sum of all genres and discourses that are in use within a specific social domain or institution (such as the media, or the university). Fairclough argued that every communicative event consists of three dimensions of text, discursive practice and social practice, and should be analysed accordingly:


Text: the linguistic features of the text, including lexicalisation, grammar, cohesion, and text structure


Discursive practice: processes related to the production and consumption of the text, including the force of utterances, coherence, intertextuality and interdiscursivity


Social practice: the institutional and organisational circumstances of the discursive event and the constitutive effects of discourse

Drawing on systematic functional linguistics (Halliday, 1978), the textual dimension focuses on how discourses are realised linguistically. Discursive practice analyses how producers of texts draw on already existing discourses to create a text, and on how recipients of texts apply

available discourses to interpret them. This level of analysis mediates the relationship between text and social practice, showing how texts both shape and are shaped by social practices. The dimension of social practice itself examines how texts reproduce or challenge wider aspects of society, particularly how they relate to the production, reproduction, or transformation of relations of domination (Fairclough, 1992: 87). Faircloughs method is based on the three components of description, interpretation and explanation. Linguistic properties are described, the relationship between productive and interpretive processes of discursive practice and text is interpreted, and the relationship between discursive and social practice is explained (Fairclough, 1995: 97). Despite his rejection of Discourse Theorys tendency to overstate the contingency of social practices, Fairclough advocates the use of several concepts provided by Laclau and Mouffe. In Discourses in Late Modernity (1999), co-authored with Lilie Chouliaraki, he argues that:

Laclau and Mouffe provide valuable resources for theorising and analysing the openness and complexity of late modern social life - they capture the instability and flux of social practices and identities, and the pervasive dissolution and redrawing of boundaries, which characterise late modernity.... We regard Laclau and Mouffe as providing valuable conceptual resources for the analysis of change in discourse - in particular their conceptualisation of articulation and equivalence / difference (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999: 124)

Articulation as a concept dissolves any strict demarcation between the three dimensions of text, discursive practice and social practice. Borrowing Laclau and Mouffes terminology, Fairclough argues that articulation brings together shifting elements of the social and stabilises them into more or less relative permanences as moments of social practice. Moments are themselves transformed through articulatory processes by being brought into new combinations with each other. Thus the discourse moment of any practice is a shifting articulation of symbolic / discursive resources (such as genres, discourses, voices) which themselves come to be articulated into relative permanences as moments of (the moment of) discourse, and transformed in that process (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999: 21). While, in line with CDA principles, Fairclough distinguishes between discursive and non-discursive elements within the process of articulation, he maintains Laclau and Mouffes interpretation of Gramscian hegemony, which is seen in terms of the relative permanency of articulations of social elements (Fairclough & Chouliaraki, 1999: 25). In a later article published in Organization Studies (2005), Fairclough also employs the term nodal discourses as a key terrains

over which hegemonic struggle occurs. Defining the term in a slightly different sense to Laclau and Mouffe, he sees nodal discourses as organising relations between other constituent discourses, citing the discourse of new public management or total quality management as examples. Hegemony can always be dearticulated and rearticulated (though not as easily as Laclau and Mouffe seem to assume), and the continual interaction between diverse practices (and discourses) means that outcomes are never entirely predictable and that resources for resisting hegemony are always available. When social practices come into conflict with one another (as, for example, Fairclough argues is the case in contemporary education settings in Britain with participants positioned both as teachers and students and as producers and consumers of educational products), subjects are overdetermined in the Althusserian sense. These contradictory positionings constitute antagonisms both between different subjects and within individual subjects (Chouliaraki and Fairclough, 1999: 25). Hegemonic struggles, then, are antagonisms which take the form of struggles over the articulation of discursive practices they presuppose free-floating elements and weak boundaries (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999: 123). Chouliaraki and Fairclough also borrow the concepts of equivalence and difference from Discourse Theory, using them in the same sense as Laclau and Mouffe. In the presence of antagonistic forces, the logic of equivalence dissolves differences among a set of particular interests, leading to the polarisation of society between two or more discursively unified camps. The logic of difference, in turn, breaks down that unity, threatening this hegemonic construction of society into Us and Them. Chouliaraki and Fairclough argue that while in colonial contexts (one of the examples provided by Laclau and Mouffe), antagonisms can lead to the full polarisation of society into coloniser versus colonised (oppressor versus oppressed), in modern capitalist societies they tend to be limited within particular social domains.

Intertextuality and Interdiscursivity From a round-table discussion between proponents of Discourse Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis, Sjolander (2011) reported a degree of resistance from discourse theorists against the kind of stepwise approach towards the analysis of texts that Fairclough provides, seeing it as a balkanization and reification of methodology (Howarth, 2005: 317). Despite this, however, the overall conclusion from the discussion was that in the end, when it comes to the actual analysis of text, the differences between the perspectives were not that great (Sjolander, 2011: 35). Sjolander s book, co-edited with Payne, then presents several empirical studies in which discourse theoretical

concepts are applied to the analysis of different forms of texts, including education policy documents, news items, corporate reports and interview excerpts. Sjolander and Payne highlight the crucial constructs of intertextuality and interdiscursivity (Kristeva, 1986; Fairclough, 1992; Candlin & Maley, 1997; Candlin, 2006; Bhatia, 2010) as a bridge between DT and CDA. Intertextuality and interdiscursivity can be related to Laclau and Mouffes concept of articulation, with both constructs emphasising the fundamental idea that discursive practice builds on prior patterns while at the same time questioning them (Isaksson, 2011). Intertextuality, as Sjolander and Payne (2011) point out, offers more concrete guidelines than articulation for what to focus upon within a text but it can usefully be applied in conjunction with some of the terms of Discourse Theory. In Chapter Four, it will be shown how this might be done, but first it is helpful to provide a brief exploration of intertextuality and interdiscursivity and how they have been defined in the traditions of CDA. The term intertextuality was coined by Kristeva (1986) in the context of her interpretation of the work of Bakhtin (1986) for western audiences. It has since been taken up by Fairclough, Candlin, Bhatia and many other researchers as a key element of CDA. According to Kristeva (1986: 39), intertextuality implies the insertion of history (society) into a text and of this text into history. It shows how a text responds to, reaccentuates, and reworks past texts, and in doing so helps to make history and contributes to wider processes of change (Fairclough 1992: 102). Links between texts can be made in different ways: through continued reference to a topic or main actors; through reference to the same events; or by transfer of main arguments from one text into the next (Krzyanowski & Wodak, 2008: 205). Candlin and Maley (1997) argue that, while social actors are generally constrained by the discursive conventions of particular social settings, there is often space for them to exercise creativity in drawing upon the resources of other discourses associated with other social practices, particularly in the case of evolving discourses (the discourse of mediation being the example they study). One of the aims of discourse analysis is, therefore, to look for ways in which the lexico-grammatical, semantic and textual discursive (in the sense of creating and packaging coherent discourse) options available to and chosen by individuals serve to construct, reinforce, perhaps question, social roles and social behaviour (Candlin & Maley, 1997: 202). Interdiscursivity refers to articulation within and between orders of discourse, the configuration of macro-level discourses the producers of the text consciously or unconsciously draw upon; or as Candlin and Maley (1997: 212) put it, it is the use of elements in one discourse and social practice which carry institutional and social meanings from other discourses and social

practices. Fairclough argues that intertextuality and interdiscursivity can contribute either to the reproduction or the challenging of the established status quo. When discourses are mixed in conventional ways, this works towards the stability of the dominant order of discourse and, thereby, the dominant social order. If, however, they are combined creatively, creating new or hybrid discourses, this can act as a challenge to hegemony. This relates intertextuality and interdiscursivity to processes of social and organisational change, which has been well-documented in a number of discourse analysis studies (see, for example, Bazerman, 1999; Faber, 2003; Chreim, 2006). In order to effect lasting change, social agents must operate not only on a material or structural level but on a discursive level too by creating significant and stable meanings within the terrain they are competing for (Bazerman, 1999: 335).

Closing Remarks This paper has introduced two influential approaches to the study of discourse and its relationship to social change: the Discourse Theory of Laclau and Mouffe and the textually-oriented Critical Discourse Analysis of Fairclough. It has been argued that, despite their epistemological differences, the two approaches share enough in common that the analytical constructs they provide can be operationalised in conjunction with each other in the discursive analysis of texts. In particular, the constructs of intertextuality and interdiscursivity developed by Fairclough, which relate to Laclau and Mouffes concept of articulation, offer a framework in which key discourse theoretical terms such as nodal points, elements / moments, floating signifiers, and the logic of equivalence / difference, can be employed to enrich a discursive analysis, linking the text under study both with other texts and with wider macro-level discourses and social practices.

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