Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Critical Discourse Analysis

I've been reading van Dijk's description of CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis), a form of "politically committed" linguistic research, aimed at "resisting social inequality". I'm realising that academics who "do" CDA are also performing a particular identity, one that is imbued with moral rectitude, and are attached to self-identifying as "dissident" (van Dijk's own word).

I find this kinda problematic because I don't want to be forever "dissident", I actually want the world to change in the direction of my ideological commitments. Despite declaring "solidarity and cooperation with dominated groups", CDA analysts are paradoxically complicit in reifying the position of the "dominated," and their own position as the "good" supporters of the dominated.

Perhaps I don't have a sufficiently convincing argument on this point, perhaps I have merely a collection of anecdotes and reflections. But one telling point is a footnote: "Space limitations prevent discussion of ... how dominated groups discursively challenge or resist the control of powerful groups." ... Ah, yes those perpetual "space limitations" that mean that "dominated groups", as always, are not accorded discursive space. That, surely, is perpetuating the problem?? As Said (quoting Marx) put it so well in Orientalism: "They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented." CDA continues this veritable tradition of constructing oneself as benevolent, well-disposed towards those "dominated groups" while continuing to take up space - which is itself a form of "domination"!

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