Doing Discourse Analysis
Full course description
Doing Discourse Analysis will immerse you into unpacking three topical and controversial issues, related to the parallel running course Cultural Pluralism: 1) Political discussions about multiculturalism in Western Europe, 2) Recent mediations of refugees fleeing to Europe and 3) Debates about veiling. You will learn how to unravel the underlying cultural norms, ideas and categories that structure the way in which an individual or a group of actors gives meaning to these subject matters. You will for instance analyse how different, contradictory identities of Syrian refugees are constructed in news outlets; in one story, they are helpless victims in need of humanitarian help, in another selfish men that have left their families behind. Discourse analysis is a socio-constructivist methodology that allows you to ask questions such as: Whose interests are served by these discourses? What power relationships are at play? Which version of Syrian refugee identity appears to be dominant, and where does it come from? Discourse analysis is about finding out how different groups of people make sense of the world, how they create knowledge of the world that they consider to be meaningful, and who is considered to be in a powerful enough position to utter statements that are considered to be true.
You are introduced to doing discourse analysis in three ways. First, we will go back to discussions of the work done by one of its founding figures, Michel Foucault. Second, you are invited to become acquainted with discourse analysis by having a close and critical look at the ways in which scholars have already analysed the three topics above. Third, we will learn by doing. You will collect materials for analysis and analyse them together with your fellow students in small sub-groups, and set up an individual research project in which you will mobilize discourse analysis. You will present this analysis during a final conference at the end of the course. As such, the course also helps to foster your experience and expertise in teamwork and your presentation skills
Upon completion of this skills course, you are able to:
- explain/understand the principles of discourse analysis as a methodology
- apply discourse analysis in the analysis of ‘texts’ (in a broad sense)
- pinpoint the various discourses or discourse strands at work in given ‘texts’ /debates
- effectively present the outcomes of a discourse analysis.
The readings in this course are available as E-readers on the UM Student Portal.