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Review of Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2005 11:38:31 -0300 From: Salvio Martín Menéndez Subject: Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis: Studies in Social Change
EDITORS: Young, Lynne; Harrison, Claire TITLE: Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis SUBTITLE: Studies in Social Change PUBLISHER: Continuum International Publishing Group, Ltd. YEAR: 2004
Salvio Martín Menéndez, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, CONICET
INTRODUCTION This collection of papers focuses on social change in different settings and through a wide range of voices. It offers a view of both systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and critical discourse analysis (CDA), and looks at the relationship between these approaches to language.
The book is divided into two parts; the theoretical section explores ways to study social, political, and economic transformations, whilst the applied section examines the effects of social change on national and institutional identities.
The opening paper of the Theoretical Section is "Analysing Discursive Variation" by Ruqaiya Hasan. First, she proposes to identify the relevance which underlies the presence of consistency and variation found in language. She shows that there are many ways of using the term discourse. She proposes how it is used in SFL: "discourse is the process of language in some recognizable social context" (16). Then, she gives a characterization of variation in relation to consistency or normality. She argues "that variation is in fact a form of consistency" (17). Then she relates variant and norm to establish that both act inherently as shifters in Jakobson´s sense of that term. Variation must be seen, therefore, in a quite different way of Labov. She characterizes, following Halliday, the two main kind of variation by reference to the users of language (dialectal variation) or the uses of language (diatypic variation). She describes the diatypic varieties in relation to realization as a dialectical relationship that relates: a) context of culture and context of situation and, b) language and text.
Then, she analyses variation and consistency in Diatypic Varieties affirming that the general nature of contextual configuration is realized as structure, and the more specific aspects in relation to an individual occasion for talk as texture. She shows how the forms of discursive variation arise from its structural potential and from the genre specific semantic potential analyzing representative texts. After that, she characterizes dialectal variation in which speaker identity is relative stable. She clearly points up: "Dominant sociolinguistics has inherited its methodology and its concept variation from classical dialectology, and its linguistics from an a-social structuralism; and its approach to the social remains superficial" (37). So, she states: "Meaning is what makes language perform the many social acts speakers engage in: it was, therefore, logical to believe that variation in speakers´ social condition would bear some relationship to their meaning-making practices" (37). She criticizes dominant sociolinguistics (i.e. Labovian), because it does not account that 1) discursive variation includes dialectal variation and context are realizationally related to texts and, 2) semantic styles are active in the perception of context so dialectal variation would be relevant. She then discusses semantic style and semantic orientation by analyzing clear examples. Finally, she affirms that what produces discursive variation is the principle of co-genetic evolution in society, because language and society each act as a resource for the other. She concludes: " It has seemed to me for some time now that it is not system or structure that are static: what is static is our ways of looking at them, our mythologies about their nature (45).
In "Predication, Propagation and Mediation: SFL, CDA, and the Inculcation of Evaluative-Meaning System", Philip Graham argues that an understanding of mediation, i.e., the movement of meaning across space and time, is essential for an analysis of meaning. Mediation has to be seen from a technological perspective where media, genres and modes are fundamental and interrelated aspects of meaning- making process. Two different texts are analyzed from this perspective. One is an annual address to the United States Radio and Television Correspondents Association annual dinner by former US President Bill Clinton, and the other is a lecture to the University President´s Forum by Mark Katz, the person who wrote Clinton´s text. The analysis is clearly postulated and Mr. Graham clearly states that the main relationship between SFL and CDA are the "contextual" part of the former, and the "critical" part of the latter. Therefore, his conclusions are orientated in this direction where he thinks that SFL and CDA can help to understand new communication technologies and new institutional relations.
In "Mapping Distinction: Towards a Systemic Representation of Power in Language", Tom Bartlett attempts to refine the methodology of CDA. He states that CDA has been criticized from different points of view (conversation analysis, applied linguistics). He also points that CDA is aware of the tension between micro- and macro-analysis. His paper "presents a methodology that attempts to quantify contextually sensitive samples of language as instantiations of social stance" (69). He proposes a qualitative-quantitative method to analyse the lexemic meaning potentials of the modals within speech acts. Following Whorf (1956: 158) and Hasan (1996: 148-149) "fashions of speaking ", he proposes to analyze the relationship between language and power through ways of speaking, i.e. "a means of depicting social difference, of mapping distinction" (72). His data is taken from his own fieldwork in Guyana, South America, where he studied communication strategies between the Iwokrama International Rainforest Conservation Programme, a multinational non-governmental organization (NGO), and local Amerindian communities. He interviewed leader members of each group and then presents an analysis of modality as a linguistic means of constructing social relations, and transitivity as a means of construing social reality. The results of his qualitative-quantitative analysis are given in order to prove that working with networks of ways of speaking proved to be a good method that clearly shows the options speakers make.
In "Role Prescriptions, Social Practices, and Social Structures: A Sociological Basis for the Contextualization of Analysis in SFL and CDA", José Luis Meurer discusses Giddens "structuration theory" as a broad sociological foundation to account for context in analysis of text and their impact, and to complement framework provided by SFL and CDA. He proposes the term intercontextuality, in an analogy to intertextuality and interdiscursivity, "to refer to the various contexts that intermesh to influence or determine, and be influenced or determined by text, discourse and other social practices" (86). Then he describes the main dimensions of structuration theory: role prescription, social practices and social structures. He analyses selected aspects of the text "On Bombing" by Noam Chomsky, that widely circulated on Internet on September 11th 2001, to explain how SFL, CDA and Structuration Theory have to interconnect in order to show in text analysis how context of culture effectively works in relation to language. He clearly concludes stating: "We cannot just say that language use is also related to the context of culture, which realizes genre and leave it at that. Thus I believe the framework I have introduced above may be the initial route between the broader context and language use (96)
"Critical Discourse Analysis in Researching Language in the New Capitalism: Overdetermination, Transdisciplinary and Textual Analysis" by Norman Fairclough opens the second part "Applied Section: National Identity". He starts by describing New Capitalism as a new way that Capitalism has to overcome crisis by transforming itself periodically. He states that the common idea of new capitalism implies that it is "discourse driven"; therefore language has a more important role in contemporary socioeconomic changes that it has had in the past. He gives as a punctual example of this transformations of the new capitalism a single text, the "Foreword" to the UK Department of Trade and Industry White Paper, "Our Competitve Future: Building the Knowledge Economy" by the Prime Minister Tony Blair. He presents a textual analysis taking SFL as the linguistic frame, but he also points that a critical perspective has to be adopted. He clearly points the difference between text as a linguistic unit and discourse as "a representation of some area of social life from a particular perspective" (111). He understands that in CDA interdiscursive analysis of text is the way to integrating social and linguistic analysis, because social practices are networked. So, he distinguishes language as an element of the social at all levels where languages can be regarded as among the abstract social structures, orders of discourse as social practices and texts as social events. Orders of discourse are a key concept: they are the social organization and control of linguistic variation and their elements (discourses, genres, styles). Language, he affirms following Althusser and Balibar (1979), is "overdetermined" by other social elements. So, he suggests to working transdisciplinary, i.e. doing text analysis and discourse analysis. Trandisciplinarity, then, is one method of working in and interdisciplinary way which he clearly characterizes: "It is not simple a matter of adding concepts and categories from other disciplines and theories, but working on and elaborating one´s own theoretical and methodological resources so as to be able to address insights or problems captured in other theories or disciplines from the perspective of one´s particular concern.(….) Disciplinary specialization is simultaneously necessary and insufficient, desirable and dangerous" (116). His conclusions lead to see that SFL is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one to work from a CDA perspective. He understands that "the interdiscursive analysis of text is a crucial mediating link between linguistic analysis and social analysis, a link which is needed (…) if one is to succeed in incorporating textual analysis more substantively within social research" (119). The incorporation of this kind of analysis "places us in a stronger position to make a substantive contribution to social research" (120)
In "Prolegomena to a Discursive Model of Malaysian National Identity", Faiz Sathi Abdullah, uses SFL and CDA as tools to analyze the concepts of "Malaysian", "nation" (bangsa) and "we" (kita) and establishes how they are represented in different discourses. He departs from the concepts of "National Identity" as defined by Wodak et al. 1999) in order to discern what may be defined as "nationalist" and "national ideologies". He proposes a discursive model of Malaysian national identity and analyses several texts as examples. He concludes saying that "to explore the experiential and relational values inherent in the language of Malaysian national/nationalist identity construction, a more principled analysis of a representative sample of discourse is imperative, taking into account other semiotic modalities for a comprehensive, critical assessment of discursive strategies, their linguistic realization, and underlying ideologies" (135).
In "Celebrating Singapore´s Development: An Analysis of the Millenium Stamps", Chng Huang Hoon analyses critically the Millennium Collection, a set of 14, minted stamps that mark 'the milestones in Singapore´s development. In his analysis, he focuses on aspects in the construction of the Singaporean history and identity from the perspective of CDA. He also analyses the texts from the perspective of SFL focusing in the nature of agency and clause structure. He presents a detailed analysis of the texts to conclude that "Clearly, the official construction is unambiguous about what one should be proud of (…) the milestones are all, unsurprisingly perhaps, People´s Action Party milestones" (153) The problem, he clearly poses, is why the individual does not feel identified with it. He said that this will be the subject of future papers.
In "The Representation of Social Actors in the Globe and Mail during the break-up of the Former Yugoslavia", Dragana Polovina-Vukovic shows how a segment of Canadian press portrays the different ethnic groups involved in the wars during the disintegration of Yugoslavia (1991 to 1999). She takes the articles appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail as her corpora to analyze how the paper identified the different ethnic groups either as "villains" or "victims". She makes a detailed description of the corpus and the selected data, a brief history of Yugoslavia and how they are represented in the press. She analyses mainly the different processes used by the newspaper in order to conclude that "the Globe and Mail discursively reproduced the ideological framework that echoed ethnic inequality among various groups from the Balkans. While Serb atrocities were widely condemned, Serb suffering was minimized, or worse, overlooked. In this simplified story about the struggle between good and evil, NATO played the role of rescuer of innocent victims" (167). Her final paragraph is clear enough to see the scope of the matter discussed. She says: "What I have presented here is an academic discussion of media discourse had, in fact, consequences on the lives of people in the Balkans. Some of them received no humanitarian aid, some of them were bombed, some of them were not granted visas in different developed countries, and some of them are still waiting to return to their homes. Uncovering inequality in discourse has implications not only for media coverage, but also can lead to changes in non- discursive practices, which affects the lives of those represented" (168)
The third part of the book is called "Applied Section: Institutional Identity". It is opened by Frances Christie´s paper "Authority and Its role in the Pedagogic Relationship of Schooling". She argues the need to develop critical perspectives on a great deal of educational theory to articulate useful models of knowledge and the curriculum and, therefore, of the nature of the authority exercised by the teacher in the pedagogic relationship of schooling. She uses the model of classroom discourse analysis by Christie (2002) which uses SFL. Also, following Bernstein (1990, 2000), she argues that the presence of a teacher who is in authority is needed. In order to illustrate her point, she analyses an example of early childhood literacy learning. Her conclusions state that "using a method of classroom discourse analysis, I have sought to demonstrate how successful teacher authority is essential to the process of teaching and learning in school" (197).
In "The Principal´s Book: Discursively Reconstructing a Culture of Teaching and Learning in an Umlazi High School, Ralph Adendorff provides a close study of situated discursive practice in an educational site, Thukeleni High School (a pseudonym) in South Africa. It is concerned with the effect of discourse (The Book) on identities (those of teachers and principal) in the context of post-apartheid South Africa. His data is drawn from 99 entries in four copies of The Book and interviews with the principal and members of his staff. His analytical framework is the Appraisal Framework within SFL. This approach is concerned with exploring the discursive semantics and lexis grammar of the language of evaluation, attitude and intersubjective positioning. It accounts of how language construes the interpersonal relationship of solidarity and power. He works, then, in the discourse of authority analyzing its formal and textual features, and also the discourse of exhortation. His conclusion clearly states: "In this particular "community of practice" (…)The Book defines simultaneously one struggle over membership identities (of the principal and his staff) and another over preferred practices, in ways that both reflect the troubled situation of the school, and perhaps contribute towards the maintenance of some of its troubled aspects" (212).
In "Representations of Rape in the Discourse of Legal Decisions", Débora de Carvalho Figueiredo analyses the vocabulary used in British reported appeal decisions on rape cases to depict sexual assaults. She investigates this issue from the perspective of CDA and Gender and Feminist Legal Studies. She analyses the legal view of rape where she defines, from the legal point of view, what it is defined as the real or prototypical rape. Then, she analyses cases of non- typical rapes such as marital rape and ex-partner rape. Her conclusions point that there is a disparity between the way sexual violence is treated in theory and in practice. "Judicial discourse makes use of several prototypes to help categorize rape cases and their participants, such as 'real rape`, the `true victim´, and the `typical rapist´. The prototypical cases are seen as serious and as deserving severe punishment. Events and participants that shade away from these central, core examples, e.g. marital rape, date rape, and rape of sexually experienced woman, are viewed with disbelief and suspicion and, frequently, end up in acquittals or short sentences" (227).
In "Bureaucratic Discourse: Writing in the "Confort Zone", Claire Harrison and Lynne Young show "how one could go about "unpacking" bureaucratese through the Phasal Analysis of a e- mail office memo issued within Health Canada (HC), a department of the Government of Canada" (232). They give the context of Canada´s public service in order to make a Phasal Analysis of the memos. This kind of analysis proposes of discovering the way in which speakers and writers structure and organize discourse. They propose to analyse the memo in four phases (I´m on the level; Show and Tell; Concealment and Arm´s-length Commands) to conclude that: "The memo failed because of this: it did not make the employees feel heard, valued or respected. Bureaucratic discourse, long considered to be useful in maintaining institutional cohesion may, in fact, contribute to the very opposite of its desired effect by creating staff resentment and resistance to the hierarchical status quo reinforced by such discourse. It does not contribute towards the kind of systemic changes required to create a work environment that will make the government "an employer of choice" and attract the type of high-quality, skilled workers required in today´s and tomorrow´s workplace."(242).
In "Charismatic Business Leader Rhetoric: >From Transaction to Transformation", Arlene Harvey examines the discourse interaction between two leadership styles: Transactional (that encompasses managerial and pragmatics processes) and Transformational leadership (that is associated with effectiveness). A short dialogue between a well-known transformational leader, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer and his employees is analyzed from SFL focusing on ideational patterning to show how he uses grammatical metaphors and negative material processes. A complementary analysis, interpersonally oriented, uses Appraisal Theory to show how the leader tries to inspire his employees to perform beyond expectations.
In "Ideological Resources in Biotechnology Press Releases: Patterns of Theme/Rheme and "Given/New", Ingrid Lassen centers on two biotechnology press releases (that represent conflicting interests) with the primary purpose of exploring one stylistic strategy that is available for naturalizing ideologies. She combines Fairclough´s three dimensional CDA model (social practice, discourse practice and text) with SFL framework of Theme/Rheme and Given/New to present a detailed analysis of the data selected. She concludes by saying that "The differences in style and communicative purposes of the two press releases corroborates (…) that it might not be possible to categorize press releases as a uniform genre, but rather as a special mode or channel used for conveying news of interest to the general public" (273).
In "We have the power -- Or do We: Pronouns of Power in an Union Context", Maurice Ward proposes to analyze the pronoun we in an union meeting text as an exponent of distance and solidarity between a group of workers in a factory in New Zealand and their democratically elected union officials. After making a very good analysis of the uses of we from a SFL framework, and showing how CDA can contribute to interpret the text chosen, he arrives to the following conclusion: "This paper avoids a simplistic conclusion that a clique of union officials is manipulating their membership for personal or political gain, and examines the systematic discoursal framing of a group fighting oppression by highlighting a chain of intertextuality and intermodality. It shows how detailed instantial analysis of the deictic we (…) can contribute to understanding systemic disempowerment and offer some small steps towards empowering workers within their union, affirming that linguists in concert with other activist do have the power to contribute to change." (294)
This volume shows clearly the necessity of making explicit connections between a strong socially orientated linguistic theory as SFL, and principles of the broad CDA, to give an accurate analysis of social changes through different discursive practices.
The papers of this quite representative collection show the connection successfully. The Theoretical Section is very important to focus the central problems that CDA has to face when it deals with text analysis. The Applied Section (on national and institutional identities) shows how FSL is the adequate tool to carry on CDA.
In the Introduction to the Second Edition of his "Introduction to Functional Grammar" (1984), M. A. K. Halliday strongly stated: "The current preoccupation is with discourse analysis, or "text linguistics"; and it is sometimes assumed that this can be carried on with grammar - - or even that it is somehow an alternative to grammar. But this is an illusion. A discourse analysis that is not based on grammar is not an analysis at all, but simply a running commentary on a text" (Halliday 1994: xvi). This important collection of papers proves that not only there is "no illusion", but that CDA does not deserve to be merely a "running commentary on a text" as well.
Althusser, Louis & Etienne Balibar (1970). Reading Capital. London, New Left Books.
Bernstein, Basil (1990). Class, Codes and Control: Volume 4: The Structuring of Pedagogical Discourse. London: Routledge.
Bernstein, Basil (2000) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, Research, Critique. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.
Hasan, Ruqaiya (1996). Ways of Saying and Ways of Meaning. Selected Papers of Ruqaiya Hasan, ed. by C. Cloran, D. Butt and G. Williams. London, Casell.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956). Language, Though and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, ed. by J.B. Caroll, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Wodak, Ruth et al. (eds) (1999) The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edimburgh: Edimburgh University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Salvio Martín Menéndez is Professor of General Linguistics and Text Grammar at the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras of the Universidad de Buenos Aires and of Linguistics I and II at the Facultad de Humanidades of the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (Argentina) and researcher of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Téncnicas (CONICET). He has worked on Pragmatic Discourse Analysis on different corpora such as Political Discourse, HIV Propaganda Discourse and High School Textbooks Discourse. Now he is working in the relationship among grammar resources, discursive strategies and genres in the Discourse of Spanish Grammars.