Where are mixed methods going?

In this talk, Prof. Bartlett will outline some of potential limitations of supposedly mixed methods work in (critical) discourse analysis.

The questions to be addressed in the talk:

What are qual and quant supposed to contribute to each other?

Is quant just background to qual?  Is qual just an example of quant?

Is “digging down” really qual analysis or just testing quant data?

Is charting change in quant trends explanatory? What are the mechanisms of change? How  do speakers move between quant and qual?

What are the relations between qual and quant: micro/macro? system/instance? corpus/item? context/text?

What scales of interaction do we need to look at, individually and in terms of the relations between them?

Is quant shallow?  Is qual unrepresentative?  Do they need to be?


Critical reflections on organizational discourse analysis

Organizational discourse has emerged as a large research field and references to discourse are numerous. As with all dominating approaches problematizations of assumptions are important. This article, partly a follow up of the authors’ frequently cited 2000 Human Relations article, provides a critical and perhaps provocative overview of some of the more recent work and tendencies within the field. It is argued that discourse continues to be used in vague and all-embracing ways, where the constitutive effects of discourse are taken for granted rather than problematized and explored. The article identifies three particular problems prevalent in the current organizational discourse literature: reductionismoverpacking, and colonization and suggests three analytical strategies to overcome these problems: counter-balancing concepts — aiming to avoid seeing ‘everything’ as discourse — relativizing muscularity — being more open about discourse’s constitutive effects — and disconnecting discourse and Discourse through much more disciplined use of discourse vocabulary.


Erasure and abstraction of hedgehog extinction: Applying ecolinguistic analysis to Bayer’s 2016 Integrated Report

Mira Lieberman, University of Sheffield Management School


How is Bayer, a multinational corporation producing biocides, currently accounting for biodiversity and extinction?  How can extinction accounting and an extinction accounting framework (Atkins and Maroun, 2018) help mitigate the current 6th mass extinction, and the rapid decline of hedgehogs in the UK?

Taking the European hedgehog as a case study, this paper applies an ecolinguistic analysis of textual and visual semiosis (images, charts, graphs) that elicit profound ethical and political questions about animal representations, social perceptions and destruction in the form of extinction.  The emerging ecolinguistic approach aims to expose, critique and raise awareness of forms of domination and hegemonic discourses that prevent constructing a positive relationship between human and nonhuman animals (Hughes, 2018). Ecolinguistics holds that emancipation of both human and nonhuman animals can be realised not only through the deconstruction of a critique of the representation of entities in texts, but also through resistance to these negative discourses and searching for a way to reshape or reconstruct discourses that can be a useful approach in imagining social change where nonhuman animals are placed at the centre.

Specifically, this paper examines erasure, a concept following Stibbe’s (2012) three level abstraction for erasure to analyse which actors or goals are excluded from texts and other semiosis: (1) the void, where a complete exclusion occurs; (2) the mask, where erasure occurs through a distorted version of the entity excluded; and (3) the trace, where someone or something is partially erased, but elements of them are still present. The exclusion could be manifest through linguistic devices such as passives (a grammatical from such as ‘Y’ is destroyed by ‘X’ as opposed to the active voice ‘X’ destroys ‘Y’), metonymy (calling something not by its name but by something associated with it, e.g., a chicken can be called a broiler, or roaster), hyponymy ( a relationship of equivalence e.g., in the phrase fish, grains and timber, fish is a hyponym of grain and timber, represented as a resource), and nominalisation ( a noun that derives from a verb e.g., destruction).


Atkins, J. and Maroun, W. (2018) ‘Integrated extinction accounting and accountability: building an ark’, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 31(3). doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2957.

Hughes, J. M. F. (2018) ‘Progressing positive discourse analysis and/in critical discourse studies: Reconstructing resistance through progressive discourse analysis’, Review of Communication. Taylor & Francis, 18(3), pp. 193–211. doi: 10.1080/15358593.2018.1479880.

Stibbe, A. (2012) Animals Erased. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Re-imagining security discourse

Re-imagining security discourse

Duncan Hunter (U. Hull)  & Malcolm N. MacDonald (U. Warwick)

Security discourse has conventionally been conceived of either as the provenance of international relations, in which it is often analysed through the more abstract lens of ‘discourse theory’ informed by post-structuralist philosophy, or as the provenance of applied linguistics  in which it is often analysed through the lens of ‘discourse analysis’, informed by genre analysis, metaphor analysis and cognitive processing. In this presentation, we will describe how a chance encounter led us to embark on a seven year project which melded together an interdisciplinary theoretical framework and analytical approach to investigate the discourse of security which combined both poststructuralist philosophy and discourse analytical techniques, and was supported by evidence from an innovative application of corpus tools. In this talk we will discuss retrospectively – and hopefully dialogically – on how we worked our way through the various stages of our project to develop our various research outputs and eventually to pull them together into a monograph (MacDonald & Hunter, 2018, forthcoming). Inter alia:

  • We will reflect on how we situated our project in relation to previous CDA analyses of security discourse; and how ultimately, we arrived at a post-Foucauldian theoretical framework which drew on the work of Giorgio Agamben (2005) and Didier Bigo (2008) in order to enable us to generate a theory of discourse specific to the domains of security which we were analysing.
  • We will describe our tussle with the limitations and affordances and of a corpus-based techniques to arrive at an approach which combined both machine-based and human-interpretive analyses of four substantial corpora of security documents.
  • We will review how we arrived at the four different contexts of security discourse with which  we engaged over the seven years: UK national security, (MacDonald and Hunter 2013b, MacDonald, Hunter and O’Regan, J.P., 2013); the security operation surrounding the London Olympics (MacDonald and  Hunter 2013a); the discourse of nuclear proliferation, (MacDonald et al, 2015); and the discourse of the US security services (Hunter & MacDonald, 2017a, 2017b).
  • We will selectively ponder one or two of the principal findings from our analysis and speculate on some of the implications for the theorisation of discourse which arose from these.    


All published outputs from our project will be posted in the SCADS Dropbox folder prior to the session. You might like to select one of our papers to skim through in order to fuel a productive discussion.  


Agamben, Giorgio (2005).  State of Exception. Chicago:  University of Chicago Press.

Bigo, Didier (2008). “Globalised Insecurity: the Field and the Ban-opticon”.  In Terror, Insecurity and Liberty: Illiberal Practices of Liberal Regimes after 9/11.  (Ed.  Didier Bigo and A. Tsoukala) Abingdon: Routledge,  pp. 10-49.

MacDonald, M. N. & D. Hunter (2018, forthcoming). The Discourse of International Security. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hunter  D. & MacDonald, Malcolm N. (2017a). Arguments for Exception in US Security Discourse. Discourse and Society 28, 5 (Sept), pp. 493-511.

Hunter  D. & MacDonald, M. N. (2017b). The emergence of a security discipline in the post 9-11 discourse of U.S. security organisations. Critical Discourse Studies, 17(2)  206-222.

MacDonald, M. N., A. Homolar, S. Schnurr, L. Rethel and R. Vessey (2015). ‘Manufacturing Dissent: the discursive formation of nuclear proliferation (2006-2012). Discourse and Communication, 9 (2),  173-197.

MacDonald, M. N. and  D. Hunter. (2013a) ‘The Discourse of Olympic Security’. Discourse and Society, 24 (1), 66-88.

MacDonald, M. N. and D. Hunter D. (2013b). ‘Governmentality and the Discourse of Counter-Terrorism’. Critical Discourse Analysis across Disciplines 7 (1) 123-140.

MacDonald, M. N., D. Hunter and O’Regan, J.P. (2013). ‘Citizenship, community, and counter-terrorism: UK security discourse, 2001-2011’. Journal of Language and Politics, 12 (3), 445-473.

A Sense of Identity: What Research in ‘Identity’ Means for Applied Linguistics

‘Identity’ is a prominent topic in 21st century research in applied linguistics (Norton & Toohey, 2011; Preece 2016), matching a more general interest in the academic community and in politics.

The initial aim of this presentation is to query the multiple meanings of identity and describe its most common patterns in applied linguistics discourse, based on an analysis of a corpus of over 300 applied linguistics journal articles published on identity between 1995 and 2005. Corpus analysis reveals a prevalence of post-structural definitions of identity, emphasising the enacted nature of an ever-shifting, socially-constructed, multi-dimensional concept.

More importantly, the presentation probes the reasons for the ascendancy of identity in the discipline. Critical approaches from cognate fields (e.g. Rouse, 1995; Skeggs, 2008) have tended to implicate identity in the homogenisation of groups and communities to further powerful interests in gaining the assent of populations in those neo-liberal societies where identity has become a keyword. Yet, there has been no discussion of the motivations behind identity gaining prominence in applied linguistics discourse. This lack of reflexivity, combined with the polysemous nature of identity and a dependence on relativistic post-structural perspectives may leave applied linguists open to the charge of complicity in disenfranchising the very communities that they seek to legitimise and empower.

The presentation will conclude with an approach to identity informed by an immanent critique (Herzog, 2016; O’Regan, 2014), exemplified by cases from the same corpus of journal articles, to propose a transformational discourse of identity.


Herzog, B. (2016). Discourse Analysis as Social Critique. London: Palgrave Macmillan

Norton, B. & Toohey, K. (2011). Identity, language learning, and social change. Language Teaching 44(4), 412-446

O’Regan, J.P. (2014). English as a Lingua Franca: An Immanent Critique. Applied Linguistics 35(5), 533-552

Preece, S. (Ed.) (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Language and Identity. London: Routledge

Rouse, R. (1995). Questions of Identity. Critique of Anthropology, 15(4), 351-380

Skeggs, B. (2008). The problem with identity. In Lin, A.M.Y. (Ed.) Problematizing Identity. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp11-32

The curious promise of educationalising technological unemployment: What can places of learning really do about the future of work?


University education is full of promise. Indeed universities have the capacity to create and shape, through staff and students, all kinds of enthralling ‘worlds’ and ‘new possibilities of life’. Yet students are encouraged increasingly to view universities as simply a means to an end, where neoliberal education delivers flexible skills to directly serve a certain type of capitalism. Additionally, the universal challenge of technological unemployment, alongside numerous other social issues, has become educationalised and portrayed in HE policy, as an issue to be solved by universities. The idea that more education can resolve the problem of technological unemployment is a political construction which has largely failed to deliver its promise. In this article, we look at educationalisation in hand with technologisation and we draw on a Critical Discourse Analysis of HE policies, to demonstrate the problems arising from taken for granted visions of neoliberal social development related to education, technology, and employment. To disrupt the tired visions of ‘techno-fixes’ and ‘edu-fixes’ we identify in these texts, we call for a radical re-imagining of HE policy. Instead of attributing responsibility for social change to abstract notions of education, market and technology, a new shared vision is needed where more agency is explicitly attributed to the researchers, teachers, and students who are the genuine human future of work.

The Curious promise of …

Frugality and fairness. The 2008 economic crisis and morality

Frugality and Fairness. The 2008 Economic Crisis and Morality


Rosa Escanes Sierra

University of Sheffield



This paper contributes to the body of work that tries to understand the links between morality and evaluative language in elite political discourse within the context of the 2008 economic crisis in the UK (see for example Kelsey et al, 2016). Austerity measures were one of the main legacies of this major event and still resonate in British politics. The reduction of the state, legitimised by deficit panic tactics (Krugman, 2012) is still part of the political agenda.  

The study, within a Critical Discourse Analysis framework, is part of a doctoral project which aims to enhance our knowledge regarding the role of ethics in the discourse of political economy. Specifically, it considers whether an economic crisis could increase the use of overt morality discourse and what exactly this explicitness looks like linguistically. It contemplates this question in terms of how intrinsic morality is within politics and economics. Ethics are part of the very purpose of government, since they determine duties for citizens and translate values into policies (Swift, 2006). Moreover, economics, was actually born as a branch of ethics (Sen, 1987).

This research pays particular attention to the role of income inequality in moral linguistic patterns.  Inequality was one of the main focuses when analysing the failure of the neoliberal model in 2008. ‘Remoralising’ the markets by acknowledging their problems with greed and polarised wealth distribution was, at the rhetorical level, a common trend amongst some elite politicians at that time (Jessop, 2012). In view of this, and considering their role in wealth distribution, I analyse yearly budget parliamentary debates in Britain from 2008 to 2012 and compare them to an equivalent corpus from a period of economic growth, 2002-2006. This comparison aims to see if there was indeed a more prominent use of morality invocations during the crisis period, using frequency and keyword analysis, and how this relates to the framing of inequality.

Furthermore, for this paper I focus on two concepts dealt with in the study: frugality and fairness. They serve as examples to discuss how corpus linguistics can be used to break down a complex idea like morality. Using tools such as keyword analysis, semantic domains, collocation patterns and close textual analysis, the study proposes an inductive dialogue between a top-down (from big concepts or categories to specific lexical items) and a bottom-up (from specific lexical items to big concepts or categories) perspective.


Keywords: comparative study; Critical Discourse Analysis; economic crisis; morality; political discourse.


Jessop, B. 2012, November. “Recovered imaginaries, imagined recoveries: a cultural political economy of crisis construals and crisis-management in the North Atlantic financial crisis”. Paper presented at the Strategies of representing and managing crises conference, Morecambe, UK.

Kelsey, D., Mueller, F., Whittle, A., & KhosraviNik, M. (2016). “Financial crisis and austerity: interdisciplinary concerns in critical discourse analysis”. Critical Discourse Studies, 13(1).

Krugman, P. 2012, May 31. “The Austerity Agenda”. The New York Times.  

Sen, A. 1987. “On ethics & economics”. Oxford: Blackwell.

Swift, A. (2006). “Political philosophy. A beginner’s guide for students and politicians”. (2nd, Ed.) Cambridge: Polity.


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

CDA as Method

This post originally appeared in CDA:Method with a link https://cda-method.com/2016/09/20/cda-as-method/

This blog is about method in CDA. This might not seem controversial – CDA studies do, after all, employ method, PhDs, books and articles include methodological discussion and there are numerous text books which describe method in CDA.

But there has been a trend recently – seen both at CDA meetings and conferences and in published articles – in which CDA is described as ‘an approach’ or a ‘movement’, and these descriptions are paired with a specific denial of CDA as method. The description of CDA as a movement was used by some contributors to the CDA 20+ meeting a couple of years ago in Amsterdam and, in to pick up one example in print, Baker et al., say this: Continue reading “CDA as Method”