Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Discourse Analysis and Its Advantage and Disadvantage

What is Discourse Analysis

Discourse Analysis
Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis is a more recently developed qualitative technique that has been used to study public relations communication.
At the risk of oversimplification, discourse analysis examines the organization of language at a level of analysis beyond the clause or the sentence. It focuses on larger linguistic units, such as whole conversations or written messages. Discourse analysis is also concerned with the way language is used in social contexts and how people make sense of one another’s messages. As summarized by van Dijk (1997), discourse analysis examines who uses language, how, why, and when.

Daymon and Holloway (2002) suggest that researchers who use discourse analysis analyze three specific aspects of language:
1. The form and content of the language used
2. The ways people use language to communicate ideas and beliefs
3. Institutional and organizational factors that might shape the way the language is used

Data collection in discourse analysis involves gathering examples of texts and messages that are relevant to the problem being investigated. These may consist of existing documents, such as speeches by company executives, press releases, internal memos, and advertisements. In addition, the researcher can generate new data by conducting interviews with key informants.
There is no concrete set of procedures for conducting a discourse analysis. Data analysis usually consists of focusing on large segments of language to identify key words, themes, imagery, and patterns in the text.
In addition, the researcher might conduct a rhetorical analysis that looks at how various arguments are constructed and arranged within a given body of language. Finally, the investigator should pay special attention to the context of the language, examining such factors as who is speaking, the circumstances surrounding the message, and the intended audience.
Levin and Behrens (2003), for example, presented a discourse analysis of Nike’s internal and external communications.
They analyzed such linguistic structures as semantic association, opposites, degradation, genre manipulation, pronoun selection, obfuscation, slanting, speech acts, restricted style, and metaphor. They found that during the height of Nike’s popularity, both company literature and press reports contained a preponderance of positive imagery. However, this changed when the company was accused of unfair labor practices. The press abandoned its positive portrayal and used the same linguistic devices to create a more negative image. In another example, Holtzhausen and Voto (2002) conducted a discourse analysis of interviews conducted with public relations professionals and found that many were endorsing postmodern values. Finally, Brooks and Waymer (2009) used discourse analysis to examine Crystallex International
Corporation’s mining operations in South America. They looked at press release archives, news and advertising archives of Venezuelan newspapers, and the archives of specialized media in the mining area. They found that the company’s public relations efforts improved once it started emphasizing corporate responsibility.

Advantages and Disadvantages.

Discourse analysis can be used to study different situations and subjects. It allows public relations researchers to uncover deeply held attitudes and perceptions that are important in an organization’s image and communication practices that might not be uncovered by any other methods.
On the other hand, discourse analysis can take large amounts of time and effort.

A second disadvantage is that this technique focuses solely on language. Although language may be an important component of public relations practice, it rarely tells the whole story. Consequently, discourse analysis should be supplemented by other qualitative techniques such as observation or focus group interviewing.