Critical discourse studies and context

Authored by: John Flowerdew

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138826403
eBook ISBN: 9781315739342
Adobe ISBN:


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Discourse Studies is concerned with the study of the interaction of text and context, and Critical Discourse Studies is concerned with a critical approach to such analysis. As Richardson writes (this volume) “CDA is, properly, the critical analysis of text in context”. Furthermore CDS sees discourse as both socially constituted and constitutive; that is to say, there is a dialectical relation between social context and text. In actual practice, however, work in CDS has tended to place more emphasis on the structure and functions of text and talk than the context within which it occurs. Context often tends to be assumed as a given. As Martinez Guillem (this volume) states, “a definition of context is assumed to stem out of the ways in which this notion is deployed in particular analyses”. This makes it difficult to write a typical handbook chapter on the topic of context in CDS, given that CDS studies focussing primarily on the topic are not available. And yet, Martinez Guillem continues, “as van Dijk (2008) emphasises, if the notion of context is so crucial in our studies, instead of taking it for granted we may benefit from devoting some time to the examination of context per se”.

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