Discourse
and
Pragmatics
Lecture 2
Meditaed Discourse Analysis
Task
• Discuss your sites of investigation
• Talk about what kinds of discourse you
are likely to find there
Review
• Discourse
• Language beyond the level of the
sentence/clause
• Language ‘in use’
• Discourse as a matter of action
• We ‘do things’ with discourse
Traditional Approach
• Look for a text (or conversation) and analyze
it
• Take into account the social context
(including the actions it is being used to take)
• Problems
• Why choose this text?
• What’s the text, what’s the context?
• Example: Computerized Classrooms
Task: MMLC
• Watch the video
• What are the people doing?
• What kinds of tools are they using to do
it?
• How is the discourse being used?
Mediated Discourse Analysis
‘Actions speak louder than words’
Meidatied Discourse Analysis
• STARTS WITH ACTION
• Rather than looking at the discourse and
trying to figure out its relationship to action
• Looks at the actions and asks (if and) how
discourse is being to take them.
• First question: What’s going on here?
• Identify the key actions
• Don’t waste your time studying discourse that
is not linked to key actions
Actions
• Our lives are made up of actions
• When we take actions we show
• Who we think we are
• Who we think other people are
• All actions are mediated through cultural tools
• So the actions we take (and the identities that
go along with them) depend on what kinds of
cultural tools are available to us
Mediated Discourse Analysis
ACTION
Actor
Other
Mediation
Other
Actor
Cultural
Tools
ACTION
Cultural Tools
• ‘Technical Tools’
• Texts
• Both verbal and
visual
• Machines
• Objects
• Bodies/People
• Semiotic (symbolic)
Tools
• Languages
• Counting systems
• Genres, social languages
and other ways of
speaking
• Time
• Rules
• Systems
• Social Identity Labels
• ‘Communities’
• Memories
Examples
Task: Buying a cup of Coffee
• List all of the actions involved in buying
a cup of coffee at PC or Starbucks
• List the cultural tools (technical and
semiotic) that are used to take these
actions
• Consider how these tools make some
actions more possible and other actions
less possible
Affordances and Constraints
• Cultural tools make some kinds of actions
more possible and other kinds less possible
• A microphone
• Therefore, they make some kinds of identities
more possible and others less possible
• Medical charts
• Tools accumulate the histories of their
previous use
Actions and Social Practices
• Actions follow other actions and
precede other actions
• ‘Chains of action’
Action
Action
Action
Action
Higher Order and Lower Order
actions
• Smaller actions go into making larger
actions
Higher Order Action
Action
Action
Action
Action
Actions and Social Practices
• Certain sequences are performed over and
over again by the same people
• ‘Habitus’ (Bourdieu)
• ‘Community of Practice’ (Lave and Wenger)
Social Practice
Action
Action
Action
Action
‘Habitus’
• Habits
• systems of durable, transposable dispositions,
structured structures predisposed to function as
structuring structures, that is, as principles which
generate and organize practices and
representations that can be objectively adapted to
their outcomes without presupposing a conscious
aiming at ends or an express mastery of the
operations necessary in order to attain them.
The ‘Historical Body’
•
Habitus ‘may be regarded as a compost heap of social practices, his or
her individual habitus which is the residue of earlier life experiences
becomes detritus to be worn away to create humas for the ontogenesis
of new social practices’ (S. Scollon 2003:168)
• ‘Karma’
• Actions, conditions and results
• Growth and ‘ripening’
• Each action is a seed which grows or evolves into our
experience of the world. Every action either starts a new growth
process or reinforces an old one.
• Experiences shape how we perceive the world in subsequent
action
The ‘Historical Body’ and the
‘Community’
Social Practice
Social
Identities
Imputing Identity
Claiming Identity
Other
Actor
Cultural
Tools
Affordances
Constraints
ACTION
Discourse
Identities
Action
Action
Action
Action
Claiming and Imputing Identity
• Condoms
• ‘If he really loves me and I trust him,
then he doesn’t have to use it.’
Agency
• Who is responsible for actions
• ‘Distributed Agency’
• Social actor
• Cultural Tool
• Social Practice
• Married?
• What’s going on?
• Are you filling out the form
• Or is the form filling out you
How we are controlled by
mediated actions
•
•
•
•
What tools are available to us
Affordances and constraints
The pressure of practices
The funnel of commitment
Availability, Affordances and
Constraints
• Different tools available to different
people in the interaction
• Coffee Shop
• Workplace Interaction
• Different tools make different kinds of
action possible
The Pressure of Practice
Claiming Identity
Actor
Imputing Identity
Other
The Funnel of Commitment
• ‘One thing leads to the other’
• With each successive action, the
‘practice’ becomes more complete
• With each successive action, the chain
of actions becomes more difficult to
reverse
Action
Action
Action
Action
Imputing Identity
Claiming Identity
Other
Actor
Cultural
Tools
Affordances
Constraints
ACTION
Action
Action
Action
Action
Agency
Imputing Identity
Claiming Identity
Agency
Agency
Other
Actor
Cultural
Tools
Affordances
Constraints
ACTION
Action
Action
Action
Agency
Action
How we adapt tools to our
special circumstances
• Appropriation
• Adaptation
• Mixing (heteroglossia)
Tension
• ‘tension between the mediational means as
provided in the sociocultural setting and the
unique contextualized use of these means in
carrying out particular concrete actions’
(Wertsch 1994: 205).
Method of Analysis
• Nexus Analysis
Discourses
in Place
Interaction
Order
Historical
Body
Historical
Body
Discourses in
Place
Historical
Body
Interaction Order
Discourses in
Place
Historical
Body
Counter-Strike
Discourses
in Place
Discourses
in Place
Interaction
Order
Interaction Order
‘You learn how to build up social networks.
You learn how to interact with others.
Rules about how to act. You get to learn
all that stuff.’
‘Identities of Expertise’
‘I have no trouble studying and memorizing things and playing games. I think
it works quite well. Faster. As I have to think while playing games. I have
already started thinking, My brain is already functioning. So it is faster for me
to study.’
Interaction Order
Discourses in Place
‘Our teacher uses computers
to teach book content.’
Historical
Body
Discourses
in Place
Interaction
Order
Historical
Body
Task: Nexus Analysis
• Look at the interaction from last week
• Discuss
• What are the actions being taken by each actor
• What are the tools available to each actor
• What kinds of actions and identities do these tools
make possible
• What is the ‘interaction order’
• What practices are subsumed into the historcial
bodies of the actors?
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Discourse and Pragmatics