Research paper, 2011, 82 Pages
This chapter sheds light on all the key terms used in the present paper. It explores the different dimensions of discourse, and how they relate to the media, to enable it to construct social reality. This chapter will be arranged as follows. The opening section will cast light on ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, as a method of analysis associated with the critical approach to the function of language in society. The next sections will present this paper’s assumption of several key concepts of this research such as ‘Discourse’, ‘Capitalism’, ‘Power’, ‘Ideology’, ‘Hegemony’, ‘journalism’, ‘objectivity in journalism’, ‘the discursive practices of journalism’, ‘audience’, ‘propaganda, and finally ‘headlines’. The purpose of this research paper is to show how the media play a crucial role in the construction of reality. To understand this point, one must understand the concepts that this research paper tries to depict in the following sections. .
“Critical Discourse Analysis” (CDA) refers to a methodology associated with the functionalist definition of discourse. One of the founders of CDA, Norman Fairclough (1995: 132) describes the aim(s) of CDA as follows:
• Discourse analysis is interpretative and explanatory. Critical analysis implies a systematic methodology and a relationship between the text and its social conditions, ideologies and power relations. [... ] (Wodak, 1996: 17-20, cited in Titscher et al. , 2000: 146)
There is no clear definition of the term “Discourse”, yet the most famous two definitions relate to the formalistic and to the functionalist view of language. The first claims that discourse in a linguistic form above the sentence and that discourse is what links sentences together to create text. While the second view of language, which is the functionalistic one, claims that discourse is language-in-use. As Blommaert (2005: 2) puts it, “there is a long tradition of treating discourse in linguistic terms, either as a complex of linguistic forms larger than the single sentence (a ‘text’) or as “language-in-use.” Discourse is also believed to always be social and central to human activity as Blommaert (2005: 10-11) puts it:
We can therefore understand that language and society are intertwined, and that discourse is exactly this concretisation of language, which is always social. We
Discourse is produced by society but at the same time shapes society. Discourse is always active. Discourse enacts Identity. Discourse has power. Discourse use is political. Finally, as Fairclough (1992: 3-4) puts it:
Discourse, therefore, not only reflects or represents the world as it is commonly believed; rather it helps to shape and to construct our very reality.
Capitalism is a term which refers to the life-mode of a certain society. To say that a society is capitalist is to make a claim that this society is based on classes, which are themselves based on the relationship of each one of them to the modes of production. As Shaikh (1986) cited by Richardson (2007, 3) puts it “In essence, a class society is structured in such a way as to enable one set of people to live of the
The idea of power has always been of central interest to researchers in the field of discourse in general and to Critical Discourse Analysts in particular. The relation between discourse and power is indeed an interlaced one. This results in a lot of difficulties when trying to define power, for it is in essence a very slippery concept.
In that sense let us start from the most simplistic vision of power; as suggested by Lukes (1974: 11), “A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do”. This view of power is in fact based on behaviourism, and viewed from this perspective; we understand that A deliberately uses power over B while both of them know that power is in use. That is, A wants to achieve something, and B knows that A wants to achieve this same thing within an observable conflict. This definition of power may be a good one to start with, but not a final one. Since power is often used in misguiding ways, and the biggest trick of power may be to make its own existence unseen. In the real world, Power is often used without B knowing it, and to take it to an extreme sometimes even without A knowing that he/she is in the exercise of it. This step allows us to move to a more sophisticated view of power, which is referred to by Bachrach and Baratz (1970: 44) as the “non-decisions” face of power. That is how power is instrumental in making “non-decisions”:
that “A exercises power over B when A affects B in a manner contrary to B’s interests.” (Lukes, 1974: 34)
This side of power is based on social structures and cultural practices; These concepts are all of them based on what is referred to as “Ideology”, which will be the subject of the next section.
As reported by Richardson (2007: 32),it is Antoine Destutt De Tracey who [after the French Revolution] coined the term ideology “to refer to ‘a new science of ideas, an idea-logy, which would be the ground of all other sciences” He continues that “De Tracey argued that the ideas we hold are not the product of God or nature but are generated by our social environment as perceived through our physical senses.” (2007: 32). Indeed, Ideology seems to be a very positive concept which can only lead to progress. This is the view that the majority of the population might have about ideologies as being good, and constructive. Yet, behind this deceptive and misguiding first image that we might get, Ideology is in fact a very misleading concept and as we saw earlier, one of the most important tools used by the social groups in power to naturalize their systems of beliefs.
In Marx’s words (Marx, 1848: 27), repeated by Franklin (2005). “the history of ideas demonstrates that the products of the intellect are refashioned along with material ones.” Ideas which at first sight are believed to be the result of experience, are in fact only the reflection of the economic circumstances and social relations of a certain period. Therefore, we can say, as Richardson (2007: 32) puts it, that
ideologies mirror “the circumstances of the ruling class and their desire to maintain their class privilege.”
Indeed, Marx gives us a very different view of ideology and how it works, not only in modern society but since the beginning of the times. Marx attacked De Tracey’s view calling it a “bourgeois” perspective. Gee (1990: 6) suggests that ideology under Marx “is an upside-down version of reality”. He claims that “Since things are not really as the elite and the powerful believe them to be: rather, their beliefs invert reality to make it appear the way they would like it to be, the way it “needs” to be if their power is to be enhanced and sustained.” (Gee, 1990: 6) Here, Ideology is clearly defined as a misleading concept, which is used by the powerful and the elite to again “naturalize” what needs to be seen as natural if their power is to remain at all.
In this same regard Callinicos (1983: 128) argues that:
Therefore, Ideologies do not simply reflect reality, and are not simply the result of experience. Ideology is more than that, it itself constructs and shapes
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