The Toolbox, an overview
I have developed my Discourse Toolbox from several academic fields - if you are interested in a full explanation of all the terms and how the tools were developed, you can read the Discourse, Critical Discourse Analysis, and Text Analysis pages. However, you will find the Toolbox is also fairly common sense. It has the following major categories:-

The chosen discourse strand - a detailed examination. In my example. I examine a single document - the UK Government 'aims and objectives' strand for environment, food and rural affairs (2001). This strand can be examined for the discourse themes, planes, positions, synchronic and diachronic factors. I describe these theories in greater detail here, and describe more of the nature and mechanisms of discourse here. Larger corpora of material can also be examined. In particular there is the Repitition of a Major Theme
Relationship with other discourses. For example, my text refers to society, economics and food in a variety of ways, and forms a relationship to these other discourses which can be analysed, including the Representing Interests analysis which I have done, and the way in which Strands can be Entangled

The Author(s). Who is the author of the text, and what is their identity ?

The Reader(s). Including the Imaginary Reader
The Actor(s). Who (if anyone) are mentioned as able to take action, and how are they referred to (and what does this reveal about the way the author thinks ?)
Actions and Threats of Action. Are any actions promised by the authors, and are any actions expected or threatened from any other source ? See here for more about the Situation
The dispositive. For more about the dispositive, see here
Power dynamics. Who has power in this general field, and how is it expressed and referred to ?
Global Trends. Some authors have developed hypotheses of global trends, such as the 'new managerial discourse', or the 'new politics'. Can these or any other ideologies or paradigms be detected in the passage. In my chosen text, there are clear signs of the "new Government" disourses.
Internal Syntax and Dynamics. Is the text a Site of Struggle, or are any other Patterns operating within it, such as Unnecessary Repetition.This section also includes the Situation Analysis
Presentation and Structure. Are there any interesting factors in the physical presentation of the text - colours, typefaces, location in other documents, etc.
Ideational. How is the thought of the author transformed into the message s/he has communicated. What can we infer (guess) about the what the author was trying to do ?
Purpose. What is the overall purpose of the text ?

Not all of these tools are useful in every circumstance, but if a text is systematically examined using the full set of tools, interesting information can be extracted from it.

In the box to the right, I have given links to the pages where I have used the individual tools. I have chosen 6 of the most interesting tools as examples, however, the other tools also provided valuable information to build up a picture of the author's thoughts and the pressures upon them.

The results of the analysis using the tools are on my Food Policy site, which focuses attention on issues of food and food production.


1. Critics might say that the tools I have proposed are common-sense and/or routine elements of semantics (or "reading between the lines"). I can hardly deny that, except to add that they are much improved by systematising them and using them in the rigorous way that I propose. This attempts to remove them from the realm of commentary and criticism, and to bring them into the realm of analysis. Additionally, using a discourse perspective opens the potential for a deeper analysis.

Project Home Page
Discourse Toolbox
  Imaginary Reader
  Site of Struggle
  Entangled Strands
  Situation Analysis
  Major Theme
  Representing Interests
Discourse Analysis
Context Analysis
Organisational Studies
The Dispositive
Case Studies
for Academics
for other Audiences
  Politics and Media

2. In any case, a discourse analysis can never be purely impartial - the analyst may try to be impartial, but their assumptions and experience will influence their findings (as an example of this, my direct experience of industrial production means I understand the implications of this differently to someone without this experience, see this page for more about industry)

3. I am not in favour of campaigning and debating. My intention is to use these tools to understand "what was in the mind of the authors" so that better communication can be established, and the author might be helped to understand the advantages of other approaches. It is not intended as a "point-scoring" approach.

Please contact me if you are interested in using my services.
(0044)(0) 1372-749803

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