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Discourse analysis

Wiggins, S. (2009) Discourse analysis. In: Encyclopedia of Human Relationships. Sage Publications, California, USA, pp. 427-430. ISBN 9781412958462

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Discourse analysis is an umbrella term for a range of methodological approaches that analyse the use and functions of talk and text within social interaction. These approaches are used across social science disciplines such as psychology, sociology, linguistics, anthropology and communication studies. Discourse analysis is interdisciplinary in nature, developed from work within speech act theory, ethnomethodology and semiology as well as post-structuralist theorists such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, and the later works of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Discourse analysis approaches are crucial for understanding human relationships because they focus primarily on interaction: how we talk to each other and the discursive practices (talking, writing) through which relationships develop, fall apart and so on. This entry covers central features of discourse analysis, methodological issues and some of the most commonly used versions of discourse analysis.