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The Discourse And Discourse Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5425 words Published: 2nd May 2017

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The chapter elaborates the theoretical frameworks used in the present study. It covers the elaboration of mass media, fear and the theories of representation. This chapter also explains Discourse Analysis, the concept of Critical Discourse Analysis, Van Leeuwen’s framework-discourse as a recontextualization of social practice which is followed by Van Leeuwen’s notion of representing social actors and action (2008) and Kress and Van Leeuwen’s theory on Reading Image (2006).

2.1 Mass Media

Mass media have become an important part of human life. People can not imagine how they would live without media, such as television, newspaper, magazine, or internet. Mass media today cover global phenomenon such as the programs on health risks, political elections, royal weddings, armed conflict, financial crises, and natural or man-made disaster.

However, mass media are not free from ideology (ibid). Any reality (this may include fear) showed in mass media possibly adopts the perspective of dominant groups or the owner of mass media (Van Dijk, 1995). Thus, the following will discuss the concept of fear and mass media with CDA as the tools of analysis to unearth the ideology in particular online news (Kompas.com & Detik.com). Here, CDA is very useful to discover hidden messages behind news as part of media discourse (Van Dijk, 1995). The construction of fear in news could also be revealed by employing CDA as the tool of analysis. To start the investigation of fear in the Indonesia online news, the concept of fear and mass media is discussed in the following section.

2.2 Mass Media and Fear

Mass media also have potential to arouse and shape emotions – locally as well as globally (Doveling, Scheve, & Konjin, 2010).The examples are falling in love with one of the characters in a film, shedding tears in a dramatic event, shouting out loud to soccer player who fails to score, and many more.

Those examples about specific characters and events are exclusively known via the media, although the audiences or the readers of the media have never met the characters or experienced the events yet. However, the audiences are moved by these examples emotionally. It is the reason why mass media have the potential to “play” with emotions while in fact nothing ‘real’ needs to be going on. So, mass media are “technically construed means to convey messages, yet they do not ‘have’ emotions themselves” (Doveling, Scheve, & Konjin, 2010).

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Fear as noun is defined as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”; “an instance of this emotion”; “a state marked by this emotion”; “anxious concern”; “profound reverence and awe especially toward God” and “reason for alarm (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, 2012)”. Meanwhile, fear can also be regarded as a verb (transitive and intransitive). Merriam Webster Dictionary defines fear as follow:

Transitive verb

archaic : frighten

archaic : to feel fear in (oneself)

to have a reverential awe of

to be afraid of : expect with alarm

Intransitive verb

to be afraid or apprehensive

Fear pervades in mass media because mass media play a large role in shaping public agendas by influencing what people think about (Shaw and McCombs 1977 cited from Altheide et all, 1999). “discourse of fear”. It is defined as the pervasive communication, symbolic awareness and expectation that danger and risk are the central feature of the effective environment (Altheide et all, 1999)

Altheide et all (1999) elaborate that there are three objects to help discovering fear in mass media. The objects are frame, theme, and discourse.

The third object to reveal fear in mass media is through discourse. The investigation of construction fear in discourse is the focus in this study. Thus, the theory of representation which is a departing point to explain discourse and CDA is described in the next part.

2.3. Representation

Representation as uncountable noun is “the way that someone or something is shown or described while as a countable noun; while as countable noun, representation is understood as a sign, picture, or model of something” (Cambridge Advance Learner’s dictionary 3rd Edition). The same view is also proposed by Longman Advanced America Dictionary which describes representation (countable or uncountable noun) as “a way of showing or describing something in art, literature, newspaper, television, etc”.

Understanding representation is important since this theory can reveal how fear is represented in the online news media. Stuart Hall’s theory of representation is one of the prominent theories of representation. Hall does not define representation as just a way something described or shown but he goes deeper by defining representation as “the production of meaning through language” (Hall. 1997 p.1). He argues that language is able to construct meaning since “it operates in operates as representational system (Hall, 1997 p.1)”. In representational system (language), signs are used to symbolize or represent objects, people, or events in “real world” (Hall, 1997). Moreover, signs can also represent imaginary, fantasy or abstract things (Hall, 1997 p.17), such as the concept of fear.

Furthermore, there are two general models of representation; Ferdinand De Saussure’s and Michael Foucault’s approaches to representation. Saussure’s model is semiotic model that can be defined as the link between the forms of expression used by language (signifier) and the mental concept with them (signified) (Hall, 1997).

The second model is Foucault’s model to representation. In contrast with Saussure’s model, Foucault (in Hall 1997 p.44) sees “discourse as the system of representation (not language)”. He argues that “meaning and meaningful practices are constructed in discourse”, so it implies that nothing meaningful outside discourse (Foucault in Hall, 1997 p.44). Foucault is, then, defined discourse as “a way of representing the knowledge about a particular topic at a particular historical monument”. From this definition, it can be inferred that Foucault model of representation is historically and context specific where certain power and ideology are involved in producing discourse and knowledge.

So far, the discussion of representation has elaborated how meaning is constructed. Two views are raised; meaning is constructed in Language (Saussure’s model of representation) or Discourse (Foucault’s model of representation). This study, then, employs Foucault’s model of representation (in Hall, 1997) since this model is more relevant to the tool of analysis of the study which is Critical Discourse Analysis (Van Leeuwen’s Framework, 2008). The model is chosen since the model of representation is more attached to the concept of knowledge, power, and ideology which are also the main notions of CDA. In order to enrich the understanding of discourse and critical discourses analysis, the elaboration of these concepts is explained in the following section.

2.4. Discourse and Discourse Analysis

Discourse often means as an extended stretch of connected speech or writing – a text (Van Leeuwen in Wodak and Meyer, 2009). However, some scholars develop a more profound definition of discourse; one of them is Foucault who defines discourses as “socially constructed way of knowing some aspect of reality which can be drawn upon when that aspect of reality has to be represented”. (Foucault, 1977 cited in Wodak and Meyer, 2009).

From different point of view, Fairclough defines discourse as “the representation of the world (Fairclough, 2003:124)”. It involves the representation of processes, relations and structures of the material worlds, the ‘mental world’ of thought, feelings, beliefs, and the social world (Fairclough, 2003:124). He also distinguished discourse from text since discourse is used to refer to “the whole process of social interaction while text is only the output of that process” (Fairclough, 1989:24).

These two scholars’ definitions of discourse give implication that discourse is not a just mere connected speech or writing. The notion of discourse raises the concept of reality, knowledge and power (Foucalt 1977 in Wodak and Meyer 2009) and the concept of world representation and social interaction (Fairclough 1989 and 2003).

The discussion of discourse raises the question of how discourse is analyzed. Dicourse Analysis is, then, the process of analysis which aims to reveal the relationship between text and the elements of social practice in the society (Paltridge, 2006:2). Zellig Harris is first scholar who introduced the term Discourse Analysis in 1952. He defines Discourse Analysis as “a way of analyzing connected speech and writing” (Paltridge, 2006:2). Harris’s study deals with the examination of language beyond the level of sentence and the investigation of relationship between linguistic and non-linguistic behavior.

Afterward, the development of Discourse Analysis influences some areas of applied language study. One of these areas is Critical Discourse Analysis (abbreviated as CDA). CDA was developed based on the fact that the values which underlie texts are often hidden (Paltridge, 2006). The critical approach to Discourse Analysis will help reveal some of these hidden values. Corresponding to this, Fairclough (1992) also states that CDA focuses on how a discourse is produced in relation to power and ideology as well as the effects of the discourse on social identities, relations, knowledge and beliefs.

Therefore, this study is geared toward investigating the construction of fear in online news media from discourse perspective (Altheide, 1999). The study is aim to reveal what the construction of fear signifies. These significations may lead to the relation of power, hidden values and ideology in the construction of fear. These significations are also the main notions of CDA. Thus, the more detailed explanation of CDA is explained in the following section.

2.5. Critical Discourse Analysis

Paltridge (2006) elaborates Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as the examination of the use of discourse in relation to its socio-cultural phenomena. It examines the way language is used in the discourse and social and cultural situation where it occurs. Distinctively, Van Dijk explains that CDA is a type of discourse analysis which studies “the way social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. (2008:85)”. Thus, it can be inferred that one of main purposes of CDA is to try to understand, demonstrate, and resist social inequality.

Furthermore, Fairclough and Wodak elucidate eight main principles of CDA. First, CDA addresses social problems by observing the linguistic forms. The concept of power relations are negotiated and performed through discourse is the second principle. The next one is that discourse represents society and culture. Ideologies are produced and reflected in the use of discourse is the fourth principle. The fifth one regards discourse as historical which means that a discourse cannot be separated from discourses before it. The concept of CDA mediates text and society is the sixth principle. Next Principle, CDA is interpretative and explanatory. Last principle, discourse is a form of social action (Fairclough and Wodak, 1997, cited in Van Dijk, 2008:86).

These eight main principles of CDA construct the basis for CDA’s aim which is to gain a good understanding of how language functions in constituting or transferring knowledge or in exercising power (Wodak and Meyer, 2009). In order to achieve this understanding, CDA requires an interdisciplinary approach. Thus, CDA is not attempted to provide one specific theory. Researches in CDA are varied and come from different theoretical backgrounds. They are also concerned with different data as well as different methodologies.

Theo Van Leeuwen is one of the CDA researchers who contributes his approach to CDA. His framework of discourse as the recontextualization of social practice is greatly affected by four important notions from Bernstein, Foucault, Halliday, and Martin (Van Leeuwen, 2008).

Thus, the present study employs Van Leeuwen’s framework of discourse as the recontextualization of social practice (2008) as the main tool of analysis. This study focuses on how social actors and social actions are represented in the construction of fear. Van Leeuwen’s framework of CDA is also used to reveal what the construction of fear signifies (the power relation, hidden values and ideologies). The elaboration of Van Leeuwen’s approach to CDA is, then, presented in the next section.

2.6. Van Leeuwen’s Framework: Discourse as the Recontextualization of Social Practice

Van Leeuwen (2008) explains discourse as outlines for the interpretation of reality. His framework on discourse presents methods for reconstructing these outlines through text analysis. It is based on four important notions from four theorists. It is built on Bernstein’s concept of recontextualization, Halliday’s theory of Transitivity, Foucault’s theory of discourse, and Martin’s theory of activity sequences. (Van Leeuwen, 2008).

First, the frameworks based on Bernstein concept of representation (1996). Bernstein defines recontextualization as “one of the three fields of pedagogic devices” (Bernstein, 1996, cited in Van Leeuwen 2008). It lies between the field of knowledge production and reproduction. The field production of new knowledge takes place in higher education institutions. The recontextualization of knowledge takes place in institutions which interpret education policies into curriculum. Furthermore, the reproduction of knowledge mostly takes place in schools. Bernstein argues that recontextualization regulates rule for “delocating a discourse, for relocating it, for refocusing it. (cited in Van Leeuwen, 2008),” Thus, it can be inferred that from Bernstein’s perpective, recontextualization is shifted from its original position of production to another position where it is changed as it is related to other discourses.

However, Van Leeuwen employs this concept in a more general sense. He also associates it to the theory of discourse constructed by Foucault. In Foucault’s sense, discourse is “a socially constructed knowledge of some social practices” (Foucault, 1977, cited in Van Leeuwen, 2008:6). At this point, discourses are seen as the resource of representing social practices in text. It implies that texts can be used to reconstruct discourses.

Subsequently, Van Leeuwen’s framework is also based on Martin’s concepts of “the field of discourse, using lexical cohesion analysis to construct ‘activity sequences’-sequences of represented activity (Cited in Van Leeuwen, 2008:5)”. In building his framework, Van Leeuwen is motivated by the work of Martin concerning the represented activities, roles, setting, etc. Although Martin’s example is in the form of procedural text, Van Leeuwen argues that all texts should be interpreted as representation of social practices that consist of series of represented activities (van Leeuwen, 2008).

2.7. Representing Social Actors

Theo Van Leeuwen (2008) has built an analysis framework regarding the representations of social actors in a text. The following section explains these categories further.

2.7.1. Inclusion and Exclusion

In a text, not all of the social actors are presented directly for the readers to see; sometimes the readers have to infer them in one or two places, and sometimes the social actors are not at all present in the text. Whenever the social actors are present in a text, it is called inclusion; and whenever they are absent, it is called exclusion (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

Excluded social actors can either be backgrounded or suppressed. If they are backgrounded, it means they can still be referred to somewhere in the text. However if the social actors are suppressed, it means they are not mentioned at all in the text.

If the social actors are included in the text, we shall then see their role allocation, whether they are playing an active or passive role, whether they are presented generically or specifically, presented as an individual or as belong in a group, presented as unspecified or specified, referred to by name or category, referred to personally or impersonally, or whether they appear in more than one social practice at the same time (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

Therefore, one way to reveal the construction of fear is to see how actors are represented in the discourse. It is important to reveal the representation of social actors since actors play vital role in creating meaning (fear) (Hall 1997, Altheide 1997, Bell, 2003). The exclusion and inclusion of the social actors in the discourse is able to reveal the relation of power and hidden values and ideology in the construction of fear in online news.

The following figure is the network of representing social actor.



Exclusion ionion


Backgrounding ionion

Activation ionion



Circumstatialization ionion


Impersonalization ionion

Personalization ionion














Single Determination

















Rel. Iden

Physical Iden.





FIGURE 1 Social Actor Network (Van Leeuwen, 2008:52)

2.7.2. Role Allocation

Role Allocation in Van Leeuwen’s Framework of representing social actors is the role give to the actor to play in the representation (Van Leeuwen, 2008). The first role allocation is that social actors in a text can either be activated or passivated. Activation and passivation of the social actors can be realized through participation, circumstantialisation and possessivation. When social actors participate in a given activity, participation occurs. While, Circumstantialisation happens when social actors are put within the circumstance. Furthermore, Possessivation happens when social actors become the possession of others (Van Leeuwen 2008).

When social actors are passivated, they can either be subjected or beneficialised. Subjected social actors are treated as objects in the representation, while beneficialised social actors are the ones who benefits, either positively or negatively, from the action (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.3. Genericisation and Specification

Talking about genericisation and specification means talking about whether the social actors are represented as classes, or as specific individuals which can be identified.

Genericisation can be realized through the plural without article, the singular with the definite article, or mass nouns (a group of participants). Meanwhile specification can be realized through specific nouns or using numerative before the noun. In addition, mass nouns can also signify specification if the tense is not present tense (Van Leeuwen , 2008)

2.7.4. Assimilation and Individualisation

The third distinction of role allocation is assimilation and individualization. This role allocation concern about whether the social actors are represented as groups or individuals. The difference lies in the singular and plural form of the social actors. Genericisation and specification can represent social actors either in singular or plural form. Meanwhile, assimilation represents social actors as groups, represents them in plural form. Individualization, The reference of social actors as individuals is called Individualization. Individulaized social actors always be represented them in singular form.

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Furthermore, assimilation consists of two types; aggregation and collectivization. Aggregation is understood as quantifying groups of participants and treats them as statistics, while collectivization does not. Aggregation is also realized by the presence of definite or indefinite quantifiers which either functions as the numerative or as the head of nominal group. Meanwhile, Collectivization can be realized by a mass noun or a noun denoting a group of people (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.5. Association and Dissociation

A further distinction of the social actor is association and disassociation. It deals when social actors or a group of social actors represented in a text as forming a group, however the group is never labeled. Association can be realized through parataxis, circumstance of accompaniment, possessive pronouns and possessive attributive clauses with verbs such as “have” and “belong” (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.6. Indetermination and Differentiation

The notion of indetermination and differentiation deals with whether or not social actors are represented as unspecified or specified. Indetermination, which anonymizes social actors, can be realized through indefinite pronouns and generalized exophoric reference, while differentiation can be realized through specific adjectives (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.7. Nomination and Categorization

Nomination occurs when social actors are represented based on their unique identities, while categorization occurs when they are represented based on their identities and functions which they share with others.

Nomination is generally realized by proper noun, in the form of formal (surname only, with or without honorifics), semiformal (given name and surname) or informal (given name only) (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.8. Functionalization and Identification

When social actors are categorized, they can either be represented by means of functionalization or identification. Functionalization occurs when social actors are represented based on what they do; or blatantly put, what they function as, while identification occurs when social actors are represented based on what they are. (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

Functionalization is usually realized in one of the following ways: first by a noun formed from verb by adding suffixes, such as -er in interviewer; second by a noun denoting a place or tool closely associated with an activity through suffixes, such as -ist in violist; and third by compounding nouns denoting places or tools closely related with an activity and highly generalized categorizations, such as compounding “swords” and “man” into swordsman.

In addition, identification has three types, namely classification, relational identification and physical identification. Classification happens when social actors are represented based on their class, age, gender, race, religion, etc.

Relational identification happens when social actors are represented based on their relationship or kinship with others. It can be realized by possessive pronoun, postmodifying phrase, or genitive. Physical identification happens when social actors are represented based on their physical characteristics (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.9. Impersonalisation and Personalisation

Impersonalisation and personalization deal with whether social actors are represented as human beings or not. All of the aforementioned categories of social actors representation fall into personalization, because all of them represent social actors as having the quality of human beings. On the other hand,impersonalisation does not represent social actors as having the quality of human beings.

Moreover, impersonalisation is divided into two types, namely abstraction and objectivation. Abstraction occurs when social actors are represented by means of quality assign to them, and objectivation occurs when social actors are represented by a place or thing closely related either with the person or with the action in which they are engaged. If they are represented by a place, it is called spatialization; if they are represented by their utterance, what they say or what

they write, it is called utterance autonomization; if they are represented by the instrument or tool they use for action, it is called instrumentialization; and if they are represented by a part of their body, it is called somatization.

In addition, Leeuwen noted that impersonalisation can background the identity and/or role of social actors, can lend impersonal authority or force to an activity or quality of a social actor, and can add positive or negative connotations to an activity or utterance of a social actor. Impersonalizing social actors takes the audience’s focus or attention away from the social actors themselves, emphasizing on the abstract concept, quality or object that is assigned to them (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7.10. Overdetermination

Overdetermination occurs when social actors are represented as participating, at the same time, in more than one social practice. It is one of the ways in which texts can legitimize practices. There are four kinds of overdetermination, namely inversion, symbolization, connotation and distillation (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

Inversion happens when social actors are connected to two practices which are each other’s opposite. A well-known example for this, as mentioned by Leeuwen as well, is The Flintstones. The Flintstones family is depicted as people from pre-historic era, as seen from their clothes that are made of animals’ hides and their house that is made from rocks and stones, yet they do activities that are common in modern era, like watching television, playing bowling and hanging out in a night club.

Symbolization happens when “fictional” social actors stand for actors in non-fictional social practices. Distillation is the combination of generalization and abstraction. It connects social actors to several social practices by abstracting the same feature from social actors involved in these several practices (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

This present study utilizes this role allocation in the chosen online news article as the main analysis of the social actor. As mentioned before, the analysis of role allocation aims to reveal how representations of the social actors are allocated in the discourse. This allocation, then, reveals the power relation, hidden values and ideologies in representing social actors in the discourse of fear.

2.8. Representing Social Action

The main question that encourages Van Leeuwen in constructing the social action network is that “What are the ways in which social action can be represented in English discourse?” (2008:3). He believes that the representational choices of actions in the discourse contain meanings that could help to understand the whole discourse. The next section presents the main ways in which social action can be transformed in a discourse (Van Leeuwen , 2008).

2.7 Van Leeuwen’s Social Action Network

This social action network presents the ways in which actions and reactions can be represented in discourse. Figure 1 shows the social action network that is developed by Van Leeuwen.























Single Determination


Form specification

Topic specification












FIGURE 2. The Social Action Network: The Representation of Actions and Reactions (Van Leeuwen, 2008:73)

2.9.1 Reactions

Reactions is understood as the emotions and attitudes toward belong to these actions of the social actors (Van Leeuwen, 2008). Typically, a discourse presents the social actions along with the reactions following them. The way to differentiate the reactions from actions grammatically is by using the criteria in Halliday’s transitivity theory of mental processes.

According to Van Leeuwen (2008), there are four conditions of mental processes which distinct them from the processes that realizing actions (such as, material, behavioral, or verbal processes).

Van Leeuwen’s argument in mental process is based on Halliday’s theory of transitivity (`967-1968, 1985). He argues that the mental processes cannot be probed by a “do” question. Second, mental processes use the simple present form while material, behavioral, and verbal processes take the progressive present form. Third, the participant of a mental process, the “senser”, must be a human or is treated as competent of human mental processes. Conclusively, the object of the mental processes can be realized by a clause as well as by a nominal group. (Van Leeuwen, 2008

These four criteria, however in Van Leeuwen’s view, are not always fully adequate to identify the actions and reactions in the actual text (2008). It is because the identification of actions and reactions is bounded by the grammar of the clause and fails to provide recognition criteria for actions and reactions in the text that use other linguistic level such as nominal group. Another problem is that many reactions are not represented dynamically by mental process clause, for instance, “they feared ….” They can also be represented statically by descriptive clause such as “they were afraid….” (Van Leeuwen, 2008:57).

Halliday solves those problems through his theory of grammatical metaphor (1985). It covers the idea that the concept of mental process is realized literally when it is realized by the grammatical category of mental process; it is realized metaphorically when it is realized in other ways. For examples, it is realized by a static descriptive clause or by elements of nominal group. Those two ways of representing reactions-metaphorically or literally-suggest that there are different metaphors available for representing the reactions.

Reactions can be formulated in a number of ways. They can be unspecified through verbs like “react” and “respond” denoting a reaction directly. They can also be specified; they are represented as particular types of reactions. In accordance to these, Halliday (cited in Eggins, 2004) differentiates three types of reactions: cognitive (verbs of thinking, knowing, understanding, etc.); affective (verbs of liking, fearing, etc.), and perceptive (verbs of seeing, hearing, perceiving, etc.).

2.9.2 Mat


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