CDA - The Potential of CDA
As can be seen from my introduction to the concepts and theories of CDA, it has an enormous potential, (as long as one remains alert to its dangers !). Some examples of these potential applications are:-
  • how the effects of power and ideology in the production of meaning are obscured, and how dominance acquires stable and natural forms, it is taken as 'given' and normal to be either dominant or dominated.
  • how the breaking of conventions (stable discursive practices) occurs in acts of creativity (and may even be necessary for creativity)
  • how texts are often sites of struggle in that they can show traces of differing discourses and ideologies contending and struggling for dominance.
  • how in texts, discursive differences are negotiated; they are caused by differences in power which are themselves in part encoded in and determined by discourse and by genre.

In particular, one can postulate the following major goals that are possible with CDA

  • The possibility to reconstruct "what someone thought" when they created a text - this is what I am trying to do here when I look at UK food policy. The task in its entirety is obviously impossible, especially as a food policy is a collective thought, but perhaps it is possible to reconstruct "what the government thinks about animals" as a first step.
  • The opportunity to develop an 'archaeology of thought' in the way that Foucault has done in some of his books. An example of this might trace the way famine and plenty have inter-related over the centuries, and how this has influenced human aspiration
  • The chance to look in new ways at what is happening in the world. For example, there is a new idea that the major force at work in the world is the spread of the 'managerial discourse' which is taking over (colonising) in politics, government, the arts, and many other areas of life.
  • Projects like a 'managerial discourse' study might give the opportunity to question "what really ARE the major forces at work in the world" and where do they come from, why and how do they succeed ?
  • Similarly, using the model of discourse threads, which seems to form a non-material but influential level in human affairs, we can pose questions such as
    What are the threads made of ?
    What exactly IS the level where they exist ?
    If all the threads were described, what would be left ?
    The threads appear to evolve …… why and how does this happen ?
    However, these questions are perhaps too exploratory to be useful in the toolbox.

This and the previous pages have described the core areas of Critical Discourse Analysis, which centre around

  • Wodak's triangle of power, history and ideology,
  • To these, Meyer adds the idea of context
  • Then there is van Dijk's triangle of discourse, cognition and society
  • And also Fairclough's social practices, social order and dominance

Several of these authors coalesce around ideas of power and dominance, which I will look at in the following pages

Another theme of CDA is the emphasis on language (Halliday), but it also extends to include semiosis (Fairclough). Scollon extends CDA even further to include social action and his Mediated Discourse Analysis

Please contact me at if you are interested in the above

(0044)(0) 1372-749803

A website from