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Discourse analysis is a general term for a number of approaches to analysing language use beyond the sentence or clause level. The language in question can be written or spoken texts or systems of texts. The term discourse analysis first entered general use in a paper published by Zellig Harris in 1952.
The concept of discourse analysis has been taken up in a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology, each of which is subject to its own assumptions and methodologies. The following are some of the specific theoretical perspectives and analytical approaches used in linguistic discourse analysis:
- Interactional sociolinguistics
- Ethnography of communication
- Pragmatics, particularly Speech act theory
- Conversation analysis, which is based on the theories of Harvey Sacks
- Variation analysis
- Discursive Psychology, particularly as developed by Jonathan Potter.
- Critical Discourse Analysis, which combines discourse analysis with critical theory (particularly that of the Frankfurt School and Michel Foucault, as well as literary, semiotic and psychoanalytic infludences from Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Lacan), to create a politically engaged form of linguistic discourse analysis.
Although each approach emphasizes different aspects of language use, they all view language as social interaction, and are concerned with the social contexts in which discourse is embedded.
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