3.ikusarticle.wrbouschek.final (p)

3.ikusarticle.wrbouschek.final (p) - MARKUSWRBOUSCHEK...

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Psychology & Society, 2009, Vol. 2 (1), 36 ‐ 44 36 Discourse Analysis and Social Critique MARKUS WRBOUSCHEK University of Vienna Among those branches of qualitative social sciences that deal with the study of discursive phenomena and structures, a variety of approaches—collectively referred to as Critical Discourse Analysis, explicitly formulate a scientific agenda which is closely linked to social critique. This claim for an active positioning of research and researchers within the ongoing discourse pose some methodological and ethical problems. Methodological problems concern the question of whether or not it is possible to show the links between the actual analytical research practice and the impetus for social change associated with it. Ethical considerations may question the validity of a research program that seem to cross the border of ‘manufacturing opinion.’ This article tries to examine some methodological programs of the Critical Discourse Analysis with special regard to the outlined co‐foundation of critical and empirical methodological principals and tries to show how a genuinely critical approach to discourse study can and should be part of further methodological discussions. In this article, I would like to present some thoughts concerning the concept of critique as it is elaborated within the field of discourse studies and more precisely, in the field of Critical Discourse Analysis. I think that these concepts can be adopted within other branches of social sciences in order to define a more general project of those practices such as critical research. The following remarks are written from a theoretical perspective, which clearly trace back to the work of Michel Foucault. Foucault, as one of the influential authors within the tradition of discourse theories, refers to the term critique as the art of not being governed in a certain way (Foucault, 1992, p. 12). This claim is linked to Foucault’s program of critically reconstructing discursive practices in which subjectivity is constituted within specific configurations of power and knowledge (Foucault, 2005). Following Foucault, the empirical study of discursive practices can be conceived as an attempt to analyse social phenomena as being to an important extent discursively configured. Any articulation of specific knowledge about social practices is at the same time a discursive (re‐)configuration of the social structures it observes. Thus there is no such thing as ‘pure’ knowledge of social laws and structures. The researcher has to understand him or herself as a critical analyst of the same power relations that structure social fields. Analysis itself is then understood as an act of interfering with the discursive order that governs a certain field of action (see Reisigl, 2003) and thereby as a political act which cannot be separated from its implications within the social (and political) world. The critical discourse analyst embraces this challenge while at the same time methodologically reflecting on the consequences
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