Culture & Text: Discourse and Methodology in Social Research and Cultural Studies

Culture & Text: Discourse and Methodology in Social Research and Cultural Studies

Culture & Text: Discourse and Methodology in Social Research and Cultural Studies

Culture & Text: Discourse and Methodology in Social Research and Cultural Studies

Excerpt

In my view, the provenance and problematic of this timely collection is best understood by working back from its conclusion. In the final paragraph of the final chapter, Alison Lee writes:

In drawing the threads of this discussion together . . . the project of engaging in the search for method is both necessary and inevitable. The need for 'responsibility' in research brings a corresponding requirement for systematicity, of some kind or another. Yet the search for method, of itself, is never sufficient to produce or account for the texts of analysis. Discourse analysts need to be able to account reflexively for the textuality of their own texts.

In Lee's view, discourse analysts (of most persuasions) have been surprisingly unreflexive about their own language. In contrast, questions about the power, politics and practices of representation by the academic community have been pivotal in critical anthropology for some years. Lee speaks clearly and pointedly about this 'methodology/ performativity' tension, and of the associated need for discourse analysts to consider together the questions of respondent 'agency' and analyst 'advocacy' which too often are kept separate.

Inevitably, given this belief in a need to be both 'expert' (in terms of 'systematicity, of one kind or another') and 'lay' (as some kind of 'responsible' conduit for the voices of others), a book that aims to be an introduction to and summary of discourse analysis will move between these positions. We can see this at work if we continue backwards from Lee's concluding piece to Jennifer Biddle's account of Warlpiri use of the alphabet and Jan Wright's analysis of school phys.ed's disciplining of the female body. Biddle's is an . . .

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