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Terminology: Dominant Discourse

Dictionary (discourse): Written or spoken communication or debate

Definition: The language and actions that appear most prevalently within a given society,
these actions and behaviours reflect the ideologies of those who have most power within
Connected words: hegemony, identity, values, beliefs, attitudes, representation, power
Texts studied: Dominant discourse can be found in many texts, since it displays the
prominent way of doing things within a society. Through the concept of dominant
discourse, we can see how very few people within a society hold authority, where those who
have power directly assert their power on others within society, forcing them to adopt the
actions and language of those in power. This ultimately leads to these prominent behaviours
and ideologies eventually becoming naturalised. Through the establishment of a dominant
discourse within a text, whether beneficial or detrimental to the society within it, can bring
about conflict through introducing a character that defies the dominant discourse within the
text. A text that displays a strong dominant discourse would be Shame directed by Steve
Jodrell. This feature film displays a representation of a small Australian town, where the
actions of men harassing and raping women has been naturalised into its society. The
dominant discourse, shaped by those in power: men, has lead to the women simply ignoring
the events that happen to their counterparts. Asta defies this dominant discourse within the
town, and she is ultimately able to redeem the women and convict the men within the town.
Without the knowledge of the dominant discourse within the films society, I would not have
been able to describe the power that the men held against the women in the town in a concise
Understanding: Having an understanding of how dominant discourse works, in both our
reality and within fictional texts, is essential to developing a deeper reading of a text, and how
it may reflect representations within our own world. Through in-depth discussion in class, and
also frequent use of the term, I have developed a clearer understanding of dominant
discourse within texts, and this has aided me in generating a better response.
Meaning: Through incorporating a dominant discourse within a text, the author can create
conflict by introducing characters that defy the dominant discourse, allowing conflict to occur.
By studying the use of dominant discourse within texts, I can develop a clearer response to
the text.


Terminology: Hegemony
Dictionary: Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others
Definition: Hegemony refers to the way in which those in power shape a societys norms,
values, beliefs, and behaviours, and how that particular shaping becomes accepted as default
and natural.
Connected words: dominant discourse, values, attitudes, power
Texts studied: A hegemony is very prominent throughout many texts, since without a
disparity in power, ideologies, or beliefs there is very little conflict that can occur. Hegemony is
similar to dominant discourse in the way that the people holding power within society are
able to shape the ideas, values and beliefs of the lesser population. A text that exhibits a
hegemonic dominance is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Within the text, we can
clearly see that the dominant, and powerful people within the microcosm of Maycomb are
the white men. They establish confinements for all of the other genders and races, where
there is a set way of going about doing things. Racial segregation is a strong example of
restraints being set, holding back the Afro-American people from being able to gain power.
Through limiting the jobs, and income of the African Americans, the white population was
able to maintain their power over the slaves for a very long period of time. The concept of
cultural hegemony illustrates the situation that the Afro-American people were in. Where the
lesser class cannot think about change outside the parameters already established by the
hegemony, and only about changes within the confines that has been already been
Understanding: Through developing an understanding of both dominant discourse and
hegemony, we can establish a greater understanding of what the author intended to be
conveyed to the reader. Bringing the topic of hegemony into a response allows me to both
display a deeper understanding of the text, and also relate representations of the hegemony
within texts to our reality.
Meaning: Through the hegemony, the author can display a disparity in power based on
factors such as wealth, social class, race, and gender. Defiance of the hegemony ultimately
brings about social change, and through this the author can display the effects of an overly
dominant hegemony such as the one displayed in To Kill A Mockingbird.