Critical Realism in Discourse Analysis A Presentation of a Systematic Method of Analysis Using Women’s Talk of Motherhood, Childcare and Female Employment as an Example


In critical realism, language is understood as constructing our social realities. However, these constructions are theorized as being shaped by the possibilities and constraints inherent in the material world. For critical realists, material practices are given an ontological status that is independent of, but in relation with, discursive practices. The advantage in taking a critical realist, rather than relativist, approach is that analysis can include relationships between people’s material conditions and discursive practices. Despite calls to develop a critical realist discourse analysis there has been little empirical critical realist work, possibly because few have addressed the critique that critical realists have no systematic method of distinguishing between discursive and non-discursive. In this article we outline a three-stage procedure that enables a systematic critical realist discourse analysis using women’s talk of motherhood, childcare and female employment as an example.

Critical Realism in CDA