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Discourse, social theory and social research : the discourse of wefare reform.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2000
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number2
Number of pages33
Pages (from-to)163-195
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Recent social theory includes important insights into language which constitute a so far underdeveloped resource for sociolinguistics. But much of this theory stops short – theoretical frameworks and categories which socially locate language are not pushed in the direction of a theorisation of language itself, which limits their operational value in research. Sociolinguistics can draw upon social theory to produce more sophisticated theorisations of language which at the same time constitute contributions to social theory. My aim in this paper is to explore what it means to work in a ‘transdisciplinary’ way. I argue in particular for a transdisciplinary engagement with social theory in which the logic of one theory is put to work in the elaboration of another without the latter being simply reduced to the former. My focus is upon critical discourse analysis (CDA) which I here take to be a part of a broadly conceived sociolinguistics. I shall link this theoretical exploration to a concrete research focus by referring to a discourse analytical study of the current British (‘New’) Labour Government, with particular reference to its ‘reform’ of social welfare. I shall be drawing upon the theoretical framework developed in Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999). I have referred to some of the social theory which I find it particularly fruitful to work with, but the paper is intended to suggest a way of working and is in no sense a closed list of theorists – on the contrary, I believe that we should be open to a wide range of theory.