Discourse Theory

What is Discourse ?

Discourse can be conveniently described as the "great milling mass" of thought, opinion, information, assessments, and so on, that fills millions of column inches of newspapers and magazines, and hours of radio, TV and conversations It is a convenient word to use, and it has advantages over the concepts of thought and mind which are more widely used. Discourse implies that 'we all knit along together' in a number of fields, reacting to events, comparing schools of thought, adapting to new (and more fashionable) ideas. From this viewpoint, there is little 'new' thought which is our own - we adapt to the general discourses around us and in the media, and take up a fairly narrow range of positions in relation to these discourses.

This usage of discourse seems useful and relevant, and I will describe more fully how discourse may have developed, and some of the main 'structure and properties' of discourse itself.

I have divided this into the following sections (although they follow in sequence, they can also be read separately):

The Original Question - how discourse may have begun
Structures and Properties of Discourse - strands, entanglements, etc.

Discursive Events - BSE was a worldwide discourse event, but other similar events go unnoticed
Discourse Planes - academics, the media, politics - they use different discourses to each other
Discourse Position - many people use discourse on the basis of their ideological position
The Overall Societal Discourse - this may be quite homogeneous - to some extent all the British think the same way
History, Present and Future - synchronic and diachronic sections
How Do Discourses Affect Us ? - how discourses and events are intertwined, mentioning the BSE crisis in the UK as part of "animal history"
What are the Limits of Discourse ? - can it explain everything ?

I have used this material to generate many of the tools and questions in the Discourse Toolbox

Please contact me at george@whatever-will.be if you are interested in the above

(0044)(0) 1372-749803

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