Researching Society And Culture And Human Power Cultural Studies Essay

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Discourse is an analysis of human power effects in society, in the meaning of macro and micro relationships. It is also an analysis of meaning within text or speech, which can be explained by knowledge of the world around us. "Treating it sometimes as the general domain of all statements, sometimes as an individualizable group of statements…as a regulated practice that accounts for a number of statements". (Foucault 1972: 80, cited in Mills 1997: 6 quoted in Jaworski and Coupland, ed 2008:1)

The concept of discourse analysis was developed by French thinker, sociologist and historian Michael Foucault. His theoretical views focus on different types of power networks which associate with knowledge.

"Foucault's model of power is "productive" (Mills, 1997). For Foucault, power is dispersed throughout all social relations as a force that prevents some actions and enables others. However, power is not confined to large-scale, macro processes of politics and society" (Jaworski and Coupland p.475, ed 2008).

Ideas have relationships between institutions and objects. Knowledge fits within practices of institutions. Foucault emphasised attention to linguistic details. However, Fairclough stated that this is not necessary and used the lack of attention to linguistic detail as his point of critique against Foucault. Fairclough further developed Foucault's theory on discursive analysis. He made a three-dimensional framework for analysing discourse.

The first dimension is discourse-as-text (e.g. metaphor, cohesion, and text structure. These should be systematically analysed. The usage of passive verb forms in news can be an influencing factor in the agent of political events.) The second dimension relates to discourse-as-discursive-practice, something produced, and then ingested within society. Once the analysis of grammar, vocabulary, and cohesion and text structure is complete, it should then encompass speech acts, intertextuality and coherence. The last dimension is discourse-as-social-practice.

Fairclough's approach to social change is built on the basis of his third dimension. Discourse analysis is a constantly evolving tool, tending to abrade with prescribed standards. Subsequently, this gives rise to new standards, which will be continually challenged.

Fairclough understood CDA as a flow of sequences: description progress to interpretation which subsequently achieves explanation.

This ideological effect involves a hegemonic process which occurs within discourse. It is important as hegemony is a tool related to power, used to achieve a goal. "The articulation and rearticulation of orders of discourse is correspondingly one stake in hegemonic struggle" (Fairclough, 1992). Foucault argued that knowledge is power over others. It leads to discipline and ruling. "For Foucault the concept of power was essentially individualistic and nominalistic…a relation between concrete individuals…it is asymmetrical and can be reflexive…Foucault did not see repression as a conceptual consequence of power relations". (Detel, 2005)

I will apply both theories as this suits my data in order to answer the research question, which is: How Cameron is building up an idea of a stronger/better country in his Manchester Party speech on 8th of October 2009. I have used this research question because I will attempt to discover how the theory of power and knowledge combines with critical discourse analysis, which affects the audience. In this way I use a methodological framework of CDA by N. Fairclough and theoretical concepts of power and knowledge, developed by Foucault. Coding of data, methodology and analysis follow. The speech is long and touches many separate discourses; I argue that significant discourses are: family, community, government and country which are gradually built into an ideology of country. My analyses are categorised as: generic structure, intertextuality, strategies: referential, evaluative, legitimising.

In terms of generic structure: The speaker wishes to interact with the audience to achieve his goal. He has to make a perfect contribution to improve his election chances, and maintain his standing within the party. Discursive genres differ between pre and situated genres.

Intertextuality: I am employing the second dimension of Fairclough, which is about discourse as a discursive practice. Intertextuality is not always clearly visible, as: in sec3L11, he refers indirectly to Thatcher. He does not want listeners to think that her years are about to come back, as public opinion is divided about her. This contradicts the statement of a previous Tory leader 'There is no such thing as a society'. This demonstrates that he has changed his party views. He also outlines what Tories could have done differently were they in power. The speaker applies knowledge produced by George Osborne, (L5). He uses the pronoun "I" to construct his relationship with the audience. He also refers to his wife and made a very brief statement of the death of his son. Here he uses twice a metaphor, "the world has stopped turning and the clocks have stopped ticking" which refers briefly to his son, but the speech is focusing on trinity of key words: family, community, country and those are strongly linked with each other.

Sec.3L12 "Above all, the importance of family. That fierce sense of loyalty you feel for each other. The unconditional love you give and receive, especially when things go wrong or when you get it wrong. That powerful sense you have when you hold your children and there's nothing, absolutely nothing you wouldn't do to protect them" The combination of utterances here is interesting as they use the present tense. It is a pattern applying to emotions as every one wants this, and the speaker uses his knowledge to deliver an ideal for the audience. The attribute "loyalty" works in conjunction with the idea of a patriarchal family unit, as the speaker talks about traditional type of family.

The speaker constructs his idea of better/stronger country by implying that every citizen has to take responsibility for their own action. This is one of the main points of his speech. Sec.20L2; he politicised his position/government through the adjective "responsibility": "…The good society is a responsible society. That's what I'm about-that's what any government I Iead will be about"

Sec3L13 "This is my DNA: family, community, country. These are things I care about. They are what made me. They are what I'm in public service to protect, promote and defend. And I believe they are what we need in Britain today more than ever." The discourse better/stronger country is constructed through the speaker's chosen combination of words, such as the physical action verbs: "protect, promote, defend" which also relate with mental processes which describe the discourse: "care, need and believe". This is also a patriotic message.

Further analysis pays attention to sec11, titled "FAMILY". This theme is described by the discourse "responsibility". See L2 of this section. "Responsibility starts at home. That is why we cannot be neutral on this". The speaker builds an idea of the family with the moral attribute "responsibility". Family relies on biology and institution. Here responsibility is a self discipline, which is exercised at an individual level and later institutionalised. This social position constructs discourse of community and country. This is an example of the Foucaultian approach to power and knowledge involving discipline. Through accepting responsibility an individual can build better community and finally, country. This is an argument with a combination of patterns which appeal to emotions in this section.

Another example of intertextuality within this speech is section 4. The theme here is "big government". This part was inspired by R. Reagan's speech, which referred to government as a problem. Sec5 from L7 to the end the speaker shows his power as leader of the party and offers three possible choices as solutions. This is structurally incorrect as he should have said that we have three options from which we can make one choice - criticism of his grammar.

In the last paragraph of sec4 the speaker uses the pronoun "we" as unity with citizens, who will be cooperating in order to put right the problems of big government and achieve "stronger families, communities, country. All by rebuilding responsibility". Here is a clear relationship with the ordinary citizen.

Big government is seen as a social problem, as society is broken; "neoliberal discourse; every individual is responsible for their success or failure, in terms of (in)competence" (Bourdieu, 1977). This is very clearly implied within speech. Sec4L11 is about highlighting work of opposition, mainly negative points but not only. Here again discourse "responsibility" is used but this time to problematize the matter: "It is the steady erosion of responsibility".

He used "we" as a unifying discourse stressed by the word "together" in the last sec21L8, where he says it is up to people to put his vision in place - an indirect warning. Elect me or you will be responsible for the resulting problems.

In his conclusion sec21 I immediately recognised a similarity with the speech of Martin Luther King: 'I had a dream'. Here he presents his vision of how the country can get stronger. It can only be achieved by applying certain indicators to life. Re-build responsibility from the roots, which is family, which builds a strong community, leading to a strong country. A very simple idea presented in a well structured and imaginative speech. The resemblance with Luther's speech is: "I have a dream" and "I see" - two different ways of saying the same thing. A frequent repetition and alliteration delivers a memorable speech. The discursive aim is to end the speech with a positive picture, that better country is possible but under his leadership.

Referential strategies: These are used by a speaker to represent participants in a precise context. This relies on building up, and then making a disparity between an in group and an out group. Here, the out group would have specific characteristics given by the in group. Those categories can be achieved by toponymms and ethnonyms. Usage of pronouns is significant here as this gives identity in terms of an in/out group dichotomy. The opposition party will be "their" 17x repeated within the speech "them" 17x while in group identifies with "we" 181x, "us" 16x and "I" 92x. The speaker chose those pronouns purposefully. Using "we and us" he identifies himself with the in group, and has a close relationship. Then, by using "I" he gives the speech his personal identity, which does not sound arrogant or rude but is rather polite and cooperates with previous statements. "I" gives a positive voice to his vision to lift the troubled country. He exercises the power relation of what can be done under his leadership. He uses rhetorical strategies to his advantage. By using "them and their" he refers to the out group, usually blaming them. This links with evaluative strategies which are demonstrating a positive representation of an in group and a negative representation of an out group. The speaker is positively representing his own group because there is a need to address potential voters. He distinguishes him/party by focusing on a negative description of an out group. The section "Big government" provides us with evaluative strategy.

Then we can talk about legitimising strategies: The aim of legitimising strategies is to provide the audience with the validity and credibility of the speaker's arguments with a natural conclusion arising from them.

Legitimising strategies are divided into: deontic and epistemic. The first claim needs to represent the source of information as a moral authority. (leader). Epistemic claims are supported by sources and statistics which the speaker believes that the audience will accept. The whole paragraph: Welfare and broken society contain legitimising strategies.

Within the 57 minute speech, themes relevant to this discourse analysis have been repeated: country 34x, family 19x, community 7x, big government 15x and responsibility 29x. The main purpose is to maintain the speaker's argument that the country can be better/stronger should he be elected.

The speaker seeks to justify the demand that underlines the activity exchange, relations between family, and community within society, which makes a country. He justifies the opposition by rationalization which presents a solution. He problematizes the issue of weak society and big government in order to provide a solution, which is giving more responsibility to individuals and less government. Problematization is a process which is central to power and knowledge ideology of Foucault.

The ideology of power is applied in this speech by the fact that the speaker is in a democratic country, has freedom of speech, authority as Party leader and potential candidate for PM. Those are drawn within networks at macro level, and again at micro level. I interpret his authority as a husband and father in a traditional type of family value. The speech had a clear flow of the topics which were related between them. However, it was focused on certain discourses, which by the end produced the idea of the better/ stronger country.

The focus here was centralised on themes such as family, community and country, by combining these with taking responsibility, which is a pattern from authorities from micro to macro levels.

My data sample offers my individual interpretation based upon my background, knowledge and power position. This could be seen as a weakness of the method, but it follows Fairclough's (2002) "adequate interpretation" rather than "right". If someone else had chosen the same discourses, the outcome could be different. Again this is down to the viewpoint of the researcher. I have been trying to be neutral to avoid bias in my analysis. As there are different approaches to discourse analysis, having chosen something different it could result in a different outcome. I selected these methods in order to provide the reader with a good explanation in relation to my question. My intention is to be transparent about my methods in order to increase their validity.

In terms of the audience: The audience align themselves by sharing his views, by having a certain background, by common knowledge and experience, power network. This speech categorises the audience: his colleagues, Conservative voters, potential voters, the media and of course the opposition Parties.

He omitted to mention the Lisbon Treaty, which avoided negative opinion from potential voters, and did not say anything about the DNA data base. CDA looks for excluded things. Interestingly, he refers in the speech to DNA: "family, community, country".

I could have analysed their appearance, applied a speech act theory based on Austin or Searle, applied the principle of politeness or cooperation, chosen a different approach to the discourse analysis, or brought in more Foucaultian quotations. I did not do so due to coursework word limitations. There are variations of types. I have chosen Foucaultian and Fairclough three dimension representation of the discourse analysis, as I have believed that these would be appropriate for my case.

The idea of the better/stronger country was presented on the discourses as a current concern to people. The speaker has constructed a simple speech to outline his ideal. It was patriotic, but did not pick discourses which would represent ethnic minorities in a bad light, as this could have an effect on the next election. He was proving that he is aware of recent issues within society by referring to ordinary people by name. He also referred to government statistics. Some social practices were stronger because they were more significant for that type of speech and the time-frame. He kept his argument close to the internal matters of the country. This is what mostly concerns ordinary people, here and now. He problematized the object (knowledge of current situation of the country) for our understanding, so we can be "responsible" for the future of Britain. In this way we are a subject in relation to the discourse of better/stronger country.

The methodological implications of using a Foucaultian framework and strategies borrowed from CDA "are exposing power inequalities" (van Dijk, 1999). It could be said that power shapes or determines knowledge. Discourse controls power and discipline according to Foucault.

One of the advantages of using CDA is that it can bring challenges within institutions or society. CDA looks at the natural language in relation to other utterances and specific context and audience. By holding to this rule it can be considered as a true claim. CDA is still directly influenced by the work of Foucault.