|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
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
|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
|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
|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
|Presentation and Structure. Are
there any interesting factors in the physical presentation
of the text - colours, typefaces, location in other
|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.
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.