Theory and Practice in

Critical Discourse Analysis

For: L. Saha (ed) International Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Education, Elsevier Science Ltd.
Contract No: 20702A008
Article No. 504057
Author: Allan Luke, University of Queensland, Australia

Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical discourse analysis is a contemporary approach to the study of language and discourses in social institutions. Drawing on poststructuralist discourse theory and critical linguistics, it focuses on how social relations, identity, knowledge and power are constructed through written and spoken texts in communities, schools and classrooms. This article describes the historical contexts and theoretical precedents for sociological models for the study of language, discourse and text in education. It then outlines key terms, assumptions and practices of critical discourse analysis. It concludes by describing unresolved issues and challenges for discourse analysis and sociology of education.

1. Language and Discourse in Contemporary Education
2. Poststructuralist and Postmodern Discourse Theory
3. Educational Applications of Discourse Analysis
4. Critical Discourse Analysis
5. Conclusion
Suggested Further Reading

1. Language and Discourse in Contemporary Education

In a context of unprecedented educational expansion and population growth, postwar sociology of education focused urgently on issues around institutional structure, the production of skilled workers, and increased educational access and participation. By the 1960s, attempts to explain and redress educational inequality for minority and lower socioeconomic groups generated major debates in sociolinguistics and the ethnography of communication. Much of that work focussed on language development and literacy acquisition as key factors in differential student achievement and the intergenerational reproduction of educational inequality. Debates over the role of social class- specific "speech codes", "linguistic deficits", the educational consequences of multilingualism, and the institutional status of non-standard English are still not fully resolved.

Some fifty years later, educators face the challenges of "new times" (Hall 1996): new cultural practices and media texts, hybrid cultural identities, emergent social formations and institutions, and changing structures of work and economy. In postindustrial and newly industrialising nation states, the rapidity and depth of many of these changes have drawn anew many sociologists' attention to language, texts and discourses. There is an increasing recognition that these now form the central media of community life, education and work.

Large-scale immigration and the emergence of multicultural, multilingual nation states have marked the postwar era. In urban and suburban areas, schools and educators are facing new student bodies and rapidly changing community demographic profiles. These new conditions have called into question the relevance and efficacy of longstanding administrative, curriculum, instructional and evaluation practices, many of which were developed in early and mid-century secular school systems designed for monocultural, homogenous nation-states. The recognition and enfranchisement of linguistic and cultural minority students has generated a host of practical issues around new dynamics of ethnic, cultural and gender difference in communities, families and institutional life, differential power in pedagogic relations in classrooms, and the knowledge and epistemological claims of historically disenfranchised groups over what should count as curriculum knowledge (see Apple 1996).

At the same time, the commodification of Western popular culture and the multinational globalisation of economies have changed the patterns and practices of work and leisure in many communities. In an emergent "postfordist" economic and sociological context, new industrial conditions and information technologies have begun to alter the requisites and parameters of what might count as educationally produced skilled labour. In service, information and media sectors of the economy, the exchange of symbols, discourses and texts have become key modes of value and exchange. Current definitions of educationally produced skills, competences and knowledges appear to be in transition, with the emergent requisites of new technologies and reorganised labour practices and markets making new demands on academic and vocational education. In response, research and theory in many areas of the social sciences and applied human services have shifted from a focus on traditional labour markets to an analysis of the economic and cultural consequences of new modes of information.

These conditions raise questions about the relevance and value of the structures and practices of early and mid-twentieth century schooling. These include questions about apparent disjunctions between community and school cultures; the appropriateness of curricular, instructional models for new student populations; and the practical requirements and challenges of new workplaces and civic spheres where these students live and work. However, many prevailing social and cultural theories of education and their affiliated practices are based on historical critiques of the industrial-era school and work, and sociological analyses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century monocultural, monolingual nation state. The move towards discourse analytic approaches to education thus begins from the assumption that many of these challenges can only be addressed by a focus on how language, discourse and text figure in educational processes, practices and outcomes (New London Group 1996).

2. Poststructuralist and Postmodern Discourse Theory

The development of the "new" sociology of education in the early 1970s was a key moment in the application of Western social philosophy and sociology to educational theory and problems. Phenomenological, symbolic interactionist and neomarxian approaches to the study of identity, knowledge and institutional change in turn led to the development and application of various interpretive methods in educational research. These include action research, literary analysis, revisionist historiography and critical ethnography. Yet these various approaches are often conflated, erroneously, with later poststructuralist and postmodern social theory under the general category of "critical theory".

The application of French discourse theory to educational research followed from the translation and dissemination of the work of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida in England and America during the 1970s and 1980s. What distinguishes French and Anglo-American poststructuralist theory is a recognition of the centrality of language and discourse. According to Foucault and Derrida, language and discourse are not transparent or neutral means for describing or analysing the social and biological world. Rather they effectively construct, regulate and control knowledge, social relations and institutions, and indeed, such analytic and exegetic practices as scholarship and research. By this account, nothing is outside of or prior to its manifestation in discourse.

Foucault asks whether the natural and social worlds are indeed knowable, accessible and analysable without recourse to the constitutive forces of discourse. He does not limit his notion of discourse to language, but refers more generally to reiterated key words and statements that recur in local texts of all kinds. Such statements appear intertextually across texts and comprise familiar patterns of disciplinary and paradigmatic knowledge and practice. For instance, we might speak of discourses of "physics" or "politics", but also might specify more fine-grained categories of discourse, like "quantum mechanics" or "socialist politics", depending on the texts in question and the purposes of the analysis. Discourses have both disciplinary and, to use Foucault's term, "disciplining" effects. They enable and delimit fields of knowledge and inquiry, and they govern what can be said, thought and done within those fields.

Poststructuralist discourse theory examines how writing, texts and discourses are constructive phenomena, shaping the identities and practices of human subjects. In his historical studies of asylums, governments, prisons and schools, Foucault focused on how historical configurations of discourse constructed new kinds of human subjects. He argued that institutionalised discourses consist of categorical "grids of specification" that classify and regulate peoples' identities, bodies, domestic and civil spaces, and social practices in different relations of knowledge and power. These discourses, he goes on to argue, work in the local situations of social institutions in ways that cannot be explained by reference to any individual's or group's roles, intents or motivations. Indeed, poststructuralist theory questions whether there are essential human subjects, individual agents and social realities independent of their dynamic historical construction in social and cultural discourses.

By this account, social institutions such as schools and universities are comprised by and through discourses. Discourses make up a dense fabric of spoken, written and symbolic texts of institutional bureaucracies (e.g., policies, curriculum documents, forms) and their ubiquitous face-to-face encounters (e.g., classroom interaction, informal talk). Within these institutions, human subjects are defined and constructed both in generic categories (e.g., as "children" and "teachers") and in more specialised and purposive historical categories (e.g., as "professionals", "adolescents", "linguistic deficit", "preoperational"). These discourse constructions act both as institutional "technologies of power", implemented and enforced by official authorisation, and they act as "technologies of the self" (Foucault 1980), internalised means for the self-discipline of action, practice and identity. According to Foucault, these technologies potentially have both productive and negative material, bodily and spatial consequences for human subjects and communities.

While Foucault's work shifts our attention to the regulatory nature of discourses, Derrida questioned whether any cultural texts can have intrinsic authority or canonical status as accounts of `truths' about the phenomenal world. That is, Derrida's approach to philosophic and literary "deconstruction" queries whether definitive or authoritative interpretations are possible in the first place. All texts are comprised by a dynamic play of "differance" which necessarily renders them polysemous: multiple and potentially quite idiosyncratic meanings can be generated by readers in particular social contexts. Each text's distinctive features and differences thus are reconstructed and reconstituted into distinctive "readings" in "local institutional sites" (Baker and Luke 1991).

Poststructuralist work thus forms a critique of ontology and epistemology in empirical approaches to social science. It makes the case that: (a) all inquiry is by definition a form of discourse analysis; and (b) all research consists of a `reading' and `rewriting' of a series of texts from a particular historical and epistemological standpoint. In so doing, it provides a radically different perspective on students and teachers, policy and curriculum, schools and classrooms. If we accept its premises, then an appropriate focus of sociological studies would be on how the texts of schooling construct such taken for granted phenomena as individuals, skills, knowledges and institutions. At the same time, it raises significant methodological questions about the status of data and the epistemological standpoint of the educational researcher. Given the primacy of discourse, the social facts studied by sociologists are constructed artefacts of researchers' own discourses and `namings', and any data collected in the field needs to be treated as a `readable' text, subject to interpretation.

This theoretical shift has the potential for destabilising dominant paradigms and theories. Prevailing models of educational research and practice comprise what Lyotard (1984) has called "grand narratives": stories about human progress and scientific development that prescribe, rather than describe in any empirical sense, what will count as individual and institutional development. Consequently, the very foundational theories that have been used to study the child, education, curriculum and instruction, may be viewed as discourses, taken-for-granted `truths' that "systematically form the objects about which they speak" (Foucault 1972 p. 49). Following a postmodern radical scepticism towards "metanarratives", no disciplinary or commonsense source of "truth claims" would be exempt.

Poststructuralist theory thereby encourages a counter-ontological critique of those broad theories of human development, social agency and social structure that have been used in the last century to analyse and develop educational interventions. In this way, it enables a self-reflexive critique of the modernist and industrial-era administrative and curricular models mentioned at the onset of this article. At the same time, it encourages the further development of experimental, interpretive modes of inquiry to examine new educational phenomena.

The insight of philosophic poststructuralism, then, is that there is no educational truth, practice or phenomena that can be studied outside of discourse. By such an account, educational institutions could be seen as complex sites constructed by and through discourses expressed in various texts: from policy statements and textbooks to face-to-face talk in classrooms. These texts are seen as "heteroglossic" articulations of various historical, class and cultural interests contending for social power and capital. The question of how to collect, read and interpret these texts and how to analyse and situate their "symbolic power" is complex. It requires the study of the diverse "linguistic markets" and "social fields" where educationally acquired competence is used (Bourdieu 1992 pp. 51-65). For while poststructuralism provides a wide-ranging epistemological critique of how discourse works, Foucault and Derrida assiduously avoided offering more than broad theoretical directions for the study of discourse in specific local institutions.

3. Educational Applications of Discourse Analysis

As noted at the onset of this article, the heralded "linguistic turn" in the social sciences had a significant impact on educational research in the postwar era. Discourse analysis describes an interdisciplinary family of methodologies and approaches to the study of language and text that draws variously upon linguistics, literary theory and cultural studies, philosophy of language, sociology and psychology. Initially, the term was used to in the 1950s to describe linguistic analysis of semantic structures above the level of the sentence. In the 1960s and 70s, it was applied by English teachers to the systematic analyses of the error patterns of second language learners' spoken and written texts and by educational psychologists to the development of cognitive text processing models.

American and European psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics in the 1960s focused on the development of linguistic models that describe how people produce and use language. However, interactional sociolinguistics and its various sub-disciplines (e.g., ethnography of communication, language planning) have tended to draw extensively from structural functionalist and symbolic interactionist sociological theory (see Williams 1992). The principal focus of discourse analysis in education in the 1970s and 1980s was on instances of face-to-face talk between, for instance, care-givers and children as key moments in language socialisation, and the development of literate competence and cultural identity (see Cazden 1988). Application of ethnomethodological approaches to the study of classroom talk (see Mehan 1979) and to educational texts (see Baker and Freebody 1989) further showed how normative categories of gender, student disability, deficit and disadvantage were constructed in the exchange structures and themes of classroom talk.

Sociolinguistic and ethnomethodological discourse analysis yielded detailed studies of language in classrooms, supplanting psychological "deficit" models with descriptions of cultural difference and the regulatory effects of schooling and classroom language. As sociological research, however, this work stops short of addressing larger questions about the unequal social production of "cultural capital", and about relationships of power amongst social actors and classes. In sum, this work provided a detailed description of everyday language use and textual practice but struggled to reconnect these systematically to larger ideological issues in what by the late 1980s appeared to be an increasingly conflict-ridden and heterogeneous social institution of schooling.

At the same time, Foucault's work had begun to provide a framework for describing how educational texts construct children, teachers, students and human subjects in different relations of power and knowledge. Henriques et al. (1984) began to meld poststructuralist and neomarxist educational analysis to describe the hegemonic power of educational discourses in the construction of gender, cultural identity and child development. A range of studies described the broad development and intellectual history of particular paradigms and networks of ideas as "genealogical" discourses that build institutions of "governmentality" and moral order. These included historical studies of childhood, progressive education, and mental measurement as well as contemporary studies of educational policy and curriculum fields including mathematics, physical education, language and literacy teaching (see Ball, 1990).

There is, additionally, a growing corpus of feminist and postcolonial work that, following Derrida and Foucault, attempts to write and hear historically marginalised speakers and voices. This includes significant work in educational autobiographies of women and members of indigenous and cultural and ethnic minority groups. One of the shared tenets of poststructuralist feminist and postcolonial theory is the need to generate a public and intellectual "space" for critique of dominant discourses and for the speaking and writing of the "unsaid", "subaltern" voices and stories that historically have been silenced. Within the fields of "critical pedagogy" and "feminist pedagogy", this work is seen to serve educative and emancipatory political projects (see Luke and Gore 1993).

The development of discourse analysis of educational texts thus mirrors some of the unresolved theoretical dilemmas in sociology of education and in the emergence and application of cultural studies to education. While sociolinguistic work has stressed microanalyses of face-to-face language use in classrooms, textbooks and student texts, genealogical studies of curriculum and policy have tended to provide broad interpretive analyses of the historical development of institutional and knowledge structures with less detailed textual analysis. By contrast, much feminist and postcolonial writing has focused on the production of situated accounts of experience and identity formation, marginality and exclusion. The outstanding task for critical discourse analysis, then, is to provide detailed analysis of cultural voices and texts in local educational sites, while attempting to theoretically and empirically connect these with an understanding of power and ideology in broader social formations and configurations. In many ways this is a restatement of an archetypal task of educational sociology: to link specific educational processes with systemic sociological outcomes. But that task has been reframed by the challenge of poststructuralism: to theorise and describe the relationships between discourse change and social change, between the word and the material world.

4. Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical discourse analysis refers to the use of an ensemble of techniques for the study of textual practice and language use as social and cultural practices (Fairclough, 1992b). It builds from three broad theoretical orientations. First, it draws from poststructuralism the view that discourse operates laterally across local institutional sites, and that texts have a constructive function in forming up and shaping human identities and actions. Second, it draws from Bourdieu's sociology the assumption that actual textual practices and interactions with texts become "embodied" forms of "cultural capital" with exchange value in particular social fields. Third, it draws from neomarxist cultural theory the assumption that these discourses are produced and used within political economies, and that they thus produce and articulate broader ideological interests, social formations and movements within those fields (see Hall 1996).

The practical techniques of critical discourse analysis are derived from various disciplinary fields. Work in pragmatics, narratology and speech act theory argues that texts are forms of social action that occur in complex social contexts. Research and theory in systemic functional linguistics (Halliday 1985) shows how linguistic forms can be systematically related to social and ideological functions. Critical discourse analysis uses analytic tools from these fields to address persistent questions about larger, systemic relations of class, gender and culture. In educational research, this work has been turned to the examination of how knowledge and identity are constructed across a range of texts in the institutional "site" of the school.

Critical discourse analysis begins from the assumption that systematic asymmetries of power and resources between speakers and listeners, readers and writers can be linked to their unequal access to linguistic and social resources. In this way, the presupposition of critical discourse analysis is that institutions like schools act as gatekeepers of mastery of discursive resources: the discourses, texts, genres, lexical and grammatical structures of everyday language use. What this suggests is a reframing of questions about educational equality in terms of how systematically distorted and ideological communication may set the conditions for differential institutional access to discursive resources, the very educational competences needed for social and economic relations in information-based economies.

Discourse and language in everyday life may function ideologically. They may be used to make asymmetrical relations of power and particular textual portrayals of social and biological worlds appear given, commonsensical and `natural'. Accordingly, the task of critical discourse analysis is both deconstructive and constructive. In its deconstructive moment it aims to disrupt and render problematic the themes and power relations of everyday talk and writing. In its constructive moment, it has been applied to the development of critical literacy curriculum that aims towards an expansion of students' capacities to critique and analyse discourse and social relations, and towards a more equitable distribution of discourse resources (Fairclough 1992a).

The principal unit of analysis for critical discourse analysis is the text. Texts are taken to be social actions, meaningful and coherent instances of spoken and written language use. Yet their shape and form is not random or arbitrary. Specific text types or "genres" serve conventional social uses and functions. That is, particular kinds of texts attempt to `do things' in social institutions with predictable ideational and material effects. These include functional written texts (e.g., business letters, forms, policies, textbooks), spoken face-to-face interactions (e.g., clinical exchanges, service exchanges, classroom lessons), and multimodal visual, electronic and gestural texts (e.g., internet home pages). Taken as historically and culturally specific social actions, genres are dynamic and continually subject to innovation and reinvention. They remain affiliated nonetheless with particular conventionalised discourses. For example, business letters are likely to feature discourses of finance and business; tabloid news reports would be sites for discourses of romance and sexuality. As conventional forms, then, genres and sub-genres thus both constrain and enable meanings and social relations between speakers and listeners, writers and readers.

All genres can be analysed in terms of their sequenced structures of propositions, their textual macrostructures. The structures of spoken and written narratives have identifiable segments, movements or `chunks'. In the case of, for example, children's reading or science textbooks, the sequencing and montage of key actions, portrayals and claims follows an identifiable order. The resultant text structures tend to operate as large scale `grammars' of actions and events chained together, as expressions of a "cultural logic" and taken for granted assumptions about historical and human agency, social and natural causality. The study of narrative structures has been used to study the representation of gender relations, cultures and cultural groups, wars and other major historical events, and civic and political structures in textbooks (see Luke 1995).

Studies of UK, US and Australian classrooms have focussed on how classroom talk can shape and reshape what will count as knowledge, subjectivity, legitimate social relations and textual practices. Classroom talk is a primary medium through which teachers and students construct `readings' of textbooks, in effect reshaping text structures, features and knowledge into authoritative interpretations. The turn-taking structure of classroom lessons and other spoken texts can be analysed for its topic and propositional macrostructure, to document patterns of who can speak, when, about what topics and with what officially recognised authority and force. As noted, ethnomethodological studies of classroom talk detail many of the typical discourse moves and techniques with which teachers regulate classroom knowledge. Recent studies of gender and cultural identity document how students' resistance can reshape school knowledge and social relations (see, for example, Gutierrez Larsen and Kreuter 1995).

Critical discourse analysis also focuses on sentence and word-level analysis, drawing analytic methods from systemic functional linguistics. Halliday (1985) argues that lexical and grammatical features of texts have identifiable functions: (a) they represent and portray the social and natural world ("field"); (b) they construct and effect social relations ("tenor"); and, (c) they develop conventions as coherent, identifiable texts in particular media ("mode"). A range of other descriptions of language functions have been developed. According to Kress (1989), written and spoken texts represent particular selective views of the world or "subject positions" (i.e., field) and they set out social relations of "reading positions" (i.e., tenor). By establishing reading positions, texts can interpellate readers, situating and positioning them in identifiable relations of power and agency in relation to texts.

The study of subject positions of textbooks has focused on selective traditions of values, ideologies, `voices', and representations. In addition to describing the cultural assumptions expressed in the text macrostructure, analysis can describe particular lexical choices (e.g., "wordings", "namings") and the grammatical representation of agency and action (e.g., transitivity, mode and modality). The use of an active or passive voice in a history textbook description of the "colonisation" of the Americas, for example, may have the ideological effect of foregrounding or backgrounding Anglo/European agency. The lexical choice of "colonisation" rather than "invasion", and the verbs and adjectives affiliated with indigenous people would represent a particular version of the historical event. Critical discourse analysis thus can document how the world is portrayed, how human, biological and political actions are represented, sanctioned and critiqued in the official texts of educational institutions (see, for example, Muspratt Luke and Freebody 1997).

At the same time, we can analyse texts in terms of how they structure and stipulate social relations between human subjects. As noted, teachers and students in classroom talk tend to reconstruct text features and knowledge, often in resistant and idiosyncratic ways. However, educational texts hail readers, and position them in ideological relations through various lexical and grammatical devices. Texts operate pragmatically through the use of pronominalisation, modal auxiliaries, and the selection of speech acts such as questions and commands, orders and injunctions. Consider, for example, how the aforementioned history textbook might define and position the reader through the use of "We" to refer to Anglo/European settlers. Or perhaps, like many other textbooks, it directs its readers' analyses and actions with questions and imperatives (e.g., "Answer these questions after reading"). These lexical and grammatical choices build differential relations of power and agency between readers and writers, between students and textbooks.

Critical discourse analysis, thus, employs interdisciplinary techniques of text analysis to look at how texts construct representations of the world, social identities, and social relationships. This has already enabled the detailed study of policy texts, official curriculum documents, textbooks, teachers' guidebooks, and student writings. It has also been used to look at a range of formal and informal spoken texts, including classroom talk, administrators' public talk, staffroom talk and parent-teacher interviews. Several recent studies of the social construction of school knowledge attempt to track different discourses across a range of texts within school systems (Corson 1995). In her study of social science education in Australian secondary schools, Lee (1996) examined syllabus documents, textbook forms, teacher commentaries on students and student work, classroom talk, and students' written assignments. Operating from a poststructuralist feminist perspective, she documented the construction of gender and gendered textual practices. This research design, used by many Australian and UK researchers, involves a series of text analyses that use different analytic tools, but which are nested within an overall set of social theoretic frameworks and sociological questions.

In its constructive moment, critical discourse analysis is being used as the basis for the teaching of "critical language awareness" and "critical literacy" to students in Australia and the UK (Fairclough 1992a). Critical deconstruction and social critique are key teleological principles of, respectively, poststructuralist discourse theory and Frankfurt School social analysis. The assumptions of such curricula are: (a) that students can be taught how to critically analyse the texts of the culture around them as part of literacy and social science education; and, (b) that critical literacy is the `new basic' for postmodern conditions.

5. Conclusion

Discourses constitute what Wittgenstein called "forms of life", ubiquitous ways of knowing, valuing and experiencing the world. They can be used for the assertion of power and knowledge and they can be used for purposes of resistance and critique. They are used in everyday local texts for building productive power and knowledge and for purposes of regulation and normalisation, for the development of new knowledge and power relations, and for hegemony. If we accept the postructuralist view of primacy of discourse, than critical discourse analysis is necessary for describing and interpreting, analysing and critiquing social life.

Critical discourse analysis provides an interdisciplinary analytic approach and a flexible metalanguage for the sociological analysis of texts and discourses. The emergence of critical discourse analysis has at least three interrelated implications for educational studies and the sociology of education. First, it marks out a retheorisation of educational practice. Educational theory and practice historically has relied on foundational metaphors of the unfolding child, the industrial machine, the individual rationalist mind, and, most recently, the digital computer. The metaphor offered by poststructuralism is that of the text as an interpretable phenomena that is constitutive of all educational and intellectual endeavour.

Second, critical discourse analysis marks out a new set of methodological techniques and possibilities. The assumption shared by many quantitative and qualitative approaches to sociological research has been that observable realities, truths and social facts have an essential existence prior to discourse. Critical discourse analysis begins from a recognition of language and discourse as non-transparent, opaque ways of studying and representing the world. It recasts all data and research artefacts as discourse. It raises and addresses the question of self-reflexivity by making researchers' own uses of discourse a key problematic in design and inquiry.

Third, critical discourse analysis marks out the grounds for rethinking pedagogical practices and outcomes as discourse. The assumption underlying many postwar curriculum development and instructional models is that the purpose of education is to produce behaviours, skills and competences required for industrial-era workplaces and civic spheres. Critical discourse analysis suggests that mastery of discourse is the principle educational process and outcome, and that this mastery can be normatively reshaped to introduce teachers and students to critical analyses of text-based, postmodern cultures and economies.

This article began by describing the challenges posed by information-based, multicultural economies and nation states for the sociology of education. Critical discourse analysis provides a means for educational sociology to examine new phenomena, including:

(a) New workplaces, communities and civic spheres: Shifting population demographics, new social geographies, multiculturalism and new information technologies are altering social relations and how discourse is learned and used. There is a need for detailed study of new textual demands and practices in these institutions.

(b) New texts, genres and discourses: The conditions are encouraging the articulation and commodification of new, unprecedented modes of expression. There is a need for the study and critique of hybrid written forms (e.g., newspaper formats that emulate TV "soundbites"), new popular cultural forms of textual expression (e.g., rock videos, infomercials), electronic genres (e.g., email, home pages), and "creolised" intercultural and interlingual communications.

(c) New social identities: In these contexts, youth have access to unprecedented symbolic and material means for the construction of social values, beliefs and identities. From the discourse analytic perspective presented here, youth identities and affiliated phenomena as "class", "race" and "gender" can not be viewed as having prior essential characteristics independent of their formation and representation in discourse. There is a need for study of how and to what end youth are using texts and discourses to construct and reconstruct new identities and communities.

The application of critical discourse analysis to educational research will require nothing less than the development of a new sociology of educational discourse. Critical discourse analysis enables us to model of how language, text and discourse figure in the production and reproduction of educational outcomes. The focus of educational sociology historically has been on the structures, processes and consequences of educational institutions. A turn to the study of languages, discourses and texts will be needed if indeed we are to understand how educational institutions might make a difference in postmodern economies, nation states and cultures.


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Suggested Further Reading

Fairclough N 1989 Language and Power. Longman, London.

Gee J P 1995 Social Linguistics and Literacies. Taylor and Francis, London.

Harvey D 1989 The Condition of Postmodernity. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

Lash S 1990 Sociology of Postmodernism. Routledge, London.

Mey J L 1985 Whose Language? A Study in Linguistic Pragmatics. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Poster, M 1990 The Mode of Information. Polity Press, Cambridge.

- Allan Luke

Graduate School of Education

University of Queensland

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia