CDA - The Attitude of CDA
Some of the leading exponents of CDA deal with the critical dilemma by taking an explicit position.

For example, van Dijk asks: "What is CDA ?"

  • It is a (critical) perspective on doing scholarship
  • It is discourse analysis 'with an attitude'
  • It focuses on social problems and especially on the role of discourse on the production and reproduction of power abuse and domination
  • It tries to do this in a way consistent with the best interests of the dominated groups
  • It combines the (old and pompous) 'solidarity with the oppressed' with an attitude of opposition and dissent against those who abuse text and talk in order to establish, confirm or legitimate their abuse of power

In CDA, theory formation, description, problem formulation and applications are closely intertwined and mutually inspiring (van Dijk, 2001, p. 96 references)

He also emphasises the need for a broad, diverse, problem-oriented CDA

Meyer describes the differences between CDA and other research methods as

  • The nature of the problems tackled is different - other methods do not always determine their interest in advance
  • CDA asks different research questions (regarding power), for example
    CDA scholars play an advocatory role for groups who suffer from social discrimination
    The line drawn between social research and political argumentation is sometimes crossed
    CDA endeavours to make explicit power relations which are frequently hidden, and thereby to derive results of practical relevance (Meyer, 2001, p. 15 references)

Jaeger has added - "Nevertheless strict objectivity cannot be achieved by means of discourse analysis, for each technology of research must itself be examined as potentially embedding the beliefs and ideologies of the analysts and thereby prejudicing the analysis towards the analysts preconceptions" (Jaeger, 2001, p. 33-4 references)

In general, it can be said that CDA strives for self-awareness in terms of:-
1. power relations, and the response of the researcher to power situations
2. the researcher should study the way that discourse is used as a tool of power
3. that generally, power relations in society can best be studied from the side of the dis-empowered
4. despite all the efforts of the researcher, objectivity can never be absolute, and is probably never achievable
5. that there should be awareness if and when the researcher crosses the line between social research and political argumentation

Added to the enormous complexity of discourse itself, and the wide range of social theories available, the quest for self awareness can easily be forgotten, but this is also an essential aspect of CDA

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