Thursday, May 04, 2006

A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis, Three Models of Interdisciplinarity

Three Models of Interdisciplinarity, Theo Van Leeuwen(2005)in Wodak and Chilton(Ed) A New a Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis.

Three Models of Interdisciplinarilty by Theo Van Leeuwen is a far sighted look at the disciplines of CDA and what we arguably would call its ‘adjacent disciplines’. This article explains three approaches towards doing interdisciplinary research.

The ‘Centralist’ approach which can be called the traditional approach places itself in the centre and occasionally reaches out to other ‘adjacent disciplines’. the ‘Pluralist’ which is more into appreciating other disciplines as epistemologically equal but still considers the two or more disciplines involved as independent ones. The final one is called ‘Integrationist’ which emerges from interdependent of the disciplines completely. There is a summary of characteristics of these approaches on page 10.

There are two points to be mentioned here one is that we should not forget that the interdisciplinarity even in its most traditional sense is still a very recent trend and that many disciplines still resist this. Conventionally the researchers of one discipline consider the methodologies and theories of their own discipline as the most suitable and practical one and this belief naturally extends itself to epistemology of the discipline too. This is even the case for different research trends within the same discipline.

The other point which is also acknowledged by the author is that researches have been doing this mixing of disciplines in one way or another and that is why it is now may be necessary to have a categorisation of these approaches.

The article gives very interesting insights in terms of how interdisciplinarity in DA and social theory, social or cultural history and ethnography can flourish the knowledge weight of the research in CDA.

I liked the point mentioned on page 11 about the advantage that the social theorist have on spotting the right areas of research. According to Leeuwen this is partly because they have an ‘antenna’ for the new macro changes of society and life and partly because they do not have to carry the baggage of doing empirical analysis. They find the new territories put their flag there and leave it for other researchers with their empirical tools to come along and dig into it later on. (Page 11)

The other point is on page 12 on how historical trend of ‘conversationalisation’ and ‘simplification’ in media discourse has been a deliberate trend in bringing about specific social impression and expanding the range of influence of a discourse or rather it becomes the core message of it. This is particularly relevant to the revolutionary discourse in Iran after the 1979 and the neo revolutionary discourse of Ahmadi Nejad in 2005. The historical analysis of how this genre has become such a powerful tool in Iran and comparing it to similar cases in the discourses of Bush, BBC, Goebbels and Roosevelt can be an interesting case to be looked into in more details.


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