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Fairclough: "Discourse Analysis in Organizational Studies"

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 1 month ago

In Discourse Analysis in Organization Studies: The Case for Critical Reflection, Fairclough examines critical realism as an alternative to positivist and post modernist views on orgnization and management studies. He outlines on page 915 his three arguments of his paper:

1.) Studies of organization need to include analysis of discourse;

2.) Analyzing discourse through the postmodernist and extreme versions of social constructivism is limiting;

3.) Critical Discourse Analysis based on ciritical realist social ontology can be valuable in studying organizations.


Fairclough argues for a "moderately socially constructivist" position that doesn't reduce studying the organization to merely discourse, but instead studyies the relationship and tension between "agency" (process and events) and structure (916). To summarize, "Critical Discourse Analysis is concerned with the relationship and tensions between the relative 'permanences' of organizational orders of discourse as moments of networks of social practices...and organizational texts conceived as processes of texturing and organizing and as the semiotic elements of social events" (918).


Fairclough calls into question the "polarization" between positivist and post modernist research (927). He critiques the positivist view as being too constricted by structure whereas the post modern view over-emphasizes process. Fairclough posits that a duality between structure and process is needed, thus he supports a realist stance. However, he makes a distinction that it is not just a realist stance, but a critical realist stance. He supports looking at the interplay and relation between process and structure as being more fruitful in the study of the organization. He argues to adopt an "analytical dualism" in which organizational researchers examine the differences and relationships of discourse (929). Specifically, "discourse analysis is consistent with a realist approach to organizational research which distinguishes organizational process and agency from organizational structures, and focuses research on the relations and tensions between them" (935).


In addition, Fairclough's version of Critical Discourse Analysis is connected to transdisciplinary research, which is "a long-term dialogue between disciplines and theories with each drawing on the concepts, categories and 'logics' of the others in pursuing its own theoretical and methodological development" (923-924).


One major issue I had with the article, is that although he explains the value of Critical Discourse Analysis, he does little to show how this particular analysis looks in day to day life.  Because of this, I have difficulty envisioning how best to use this approach.  Based on the article, we know that using CDA requires analyzing the structure and the processes of the organization using discourse and non-discoursal elements of the social organization, but I wonder how that application would look when applied specifically to our organizations.


In addition, Fairclough promotes the notion that realization of interpersonal meanings involves analysis of the text in several dimensions.  Furthermore, the institution develops a language and certain social practices that become part of the organizations culture and norm ways of doing things.  Fairclough mentions how a contribution and impact on the next generation is essential for organizations.  Furthermore, Fairclough attempts to describe social practices that emulate a web that interconnects organizational structure and practice.  Fairclough's assumption that the "Dominant Group's" culture will always attempt to maintain the status quo under a Hegemonic system was something that I found to be the most interesting piece that I could personally relate to.  


The aspects I found most appealing and potentially useful in my own work...
Fairclough describes social practices in the analogy of a web which links organizational structure and practice (I created a graphic for this concept but unfortunately it wouldn't download.)
Critical realism claims that mediating entities (social practices) are necessary to account for the relationship between structures and processes/events…social practices are networked in distinctive and shifting ways…Critical realist ontology is also ‘transformational’: human agency produces effects through drawing on existing structures and practices which are reproduced and/or transformed in action.” (p. 922)
Fairclough also outlines his theoretical assumptions about organizational change. (There is also a graphic for this concept which I'll bring to class if anyone is interested.)
 Theoretical Assumptions: Organizational Change (based on cultural political economy, Fairclough (?), Jessop (2002)) (p. 931)
1)     Hegemonic organizational structure: Dominant group culture maintains the status quo
2)Organizational Crisis: challenge (external/internal/both) to set way of thinking and doing things    
3)Crisis situations produce new ‘fixes’ and a hegemonic struggle ensues often creating a hybrid hegemony.    
4)Strategies/’fixes’ are partly discoursal and produce narratives which represent perspectives as to what has happened and what may happen. (Discourses and narratives may be ‘recontexturalized’ from other organizations)    
5)Changes in processes and texts become part of the workings of the organization thus transforming it.    
6)This results in the implementation of new discourses & narratives and new ways of being a part and perceiving that part/role (individually and organizationally)    
He concludes with areas of research applications of Critical Discourse Analysis:
 Four Broad Sets of Research Issues (based on the assumptions) (pp. 932-935)
1)     Emergence research needs to move beyond analysis of change and also incorporate how these changes affect the structure and strategies of the organization. “nothing comes out of nothing” Through social interaction new discourses emerge and incorporate new and old through ‘reweaving’ of discourses.
2)Hegemony –      (complicated process with many influences) CDA – Strategic critique of text analysis – analyzing texts with a focus on contradictions and struggles between competing discourses and strategies. The analysis of the process by which strategies successfully become part of the hegemony (or don’t).
3)Recontextualization –      Researching the recontexturaliztion of discourse is an important part of discourse analytical research on organizational change.” Organizations have their own distinctive way of internalizing ‘external’ discourses, which often result in unpredictable transformations and outcomes. 
4)Operationalization - Successful strategies may be operationalized. Operalization includes enactment: discourses are dialectically transformed into new ways of acting and interacting;  inculcation: dialectical transformation of discourses into new ways of being (identities or styles). These lead to materialization, which involves physical changes to facilitate the changes in social practices.    



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