We normally believe that we use our minds to think about issues,
events and circumstances. Discourse suggests that, rather than using
our minds and thinking, we often work in pre-existing and relatively
permanent mental structures called discourses, although we adapt
these discourses to our own purposes and situations.
We all "knit along together" creating discourse.
Discourse can be described in great detail, as having strands,
knots, positions, themes and many other elements, and I have described
this more fully and summarised some of the theoretical ideas about
this in the Discourse pages.
Academics now use Discourse to help them understand many social
and political issues, and this has developed into a new school of
thought, Critical Discourse Analysis. A feature of CDA is its interest
in the way power relationships are signalled in communications.
I discuss this in greater detail on the CDA
Text Analysis is a closely
related field with a different but very valuable approach.