Working papers archive

Working papers in communication research were produced by ICDC from 2001-2010. This archive contains outputs generated during that time.


Vol 4 December 2008: Diversity of Discourse Analysis

ISSN 1177-3707

In 2007, the Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication held the first ever New Zealand Discourse Conference in Auckland attracting a large number of delegates from around New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific.

Along with the variety of nationalities represented at the conference were a wide range of topics and disciplines applying different approaches of discourse analysis, including conversation analysis, critical linguistic analysis, critical discourse analysis, discursive psychology and genre analysis.


Some academics have taken a critical view of the wide variation of discursive investigation.

Georgakopoulou and Gutsos called for 'more constructive dialogue' between practitioners of various approaches to avoid the danger that discourse analysis 'will come to loosely mean any work from diverse analytic perspectives with no common meta-language, method or technical apparatus' (1997, p. 187),  while van Dijk expressed the need for 'explicit or systematic analysis' based on 'serious methods and theories' (1990, p. 14).

Lee (2005) however, says that the development of a meta-language has already begun. We believe that a process of transformation will take time to occur as emerging researchers experience and experiment with a concept that needs to be better understood and applied.

Bearing this in mind, this issue of Working Papers brings together a small selection of papers presented at the conference which illustrate the diverse approaches to discourse analysis, but at the same time provide an opportunity to see where commonality might exist.

Thilagavathi Shanmuganathan from the Department of English Language, University of Malaya explores combining conversation analysis with ethnography to understand the intricacies of real estate negotiation, while Lusvita Nuzuliyanti and Lina Puryanti from the English Department, Airlangga University,  Surabaya Indonesia discuss the results from seven months observing the virtual dialogue between members of an online-fan forum for Korean celebrities.

Lidia Tanaka from the Asian Studies Department, La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia examined shifts in casual and formal-speech styles in the language of callers to Japanese radio talk-back programmes to determine why this occurs.

Imran Ho-Abdullah and Ruzy Suliza Hashim from the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, at the Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia use a cognitive linguistics approach to tackle the visual and written discourses of Malaysian editorial cartoons in their treatment of gender and sexuality of women.

Finally social scientist Bev Majda from the Division of Education, School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of South Australia applies critical discourse analysis to examine the restructuring of Australia's health financing policy.

It is useful when considering such diversity in research to reflect on the commentary of Norman Fairclough, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at Lancaster University and one of the founders of critical discourse analysis, who acknowledges that discourse can be confusingly used in various disciplines  (1995).

To deal with this he suggests the importance of understanding discourse as having two main senses. 'One is predominant in language studies: discourse as social action and interaction, people interacting together in real social situations. The other is predominant in post-structuralist social theory  [Foucault] a discourse as a social construction of reality, a form of knowledge' (Fairclough, 1995, p. 18)

The objective of the Working Papers in Culture, Discourse and Communication has always been to give academics the opportunity to have their works in progress peer reviewed and commented on before publication.

At the same time it is hoped that this issue, along with consideration of Fairclough's comment above, will serve to inspire and encourage researchers to note the diversity of discourse analysis but at the same time endeavour to see where common ground might be achieved.

Editor: Philippa Smith,
Guest editor: Karishma Kripilani


Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London: Longman Group.
Georgakopoulou, A., & Gutsos, D. (1997). Discourse analysis: An introduction. Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press.
Lee, A. (2005). When is a text? Paper presented at the International Conference of Critical Discourse Analysis: Theory into Research. 15–18 November. University of Tasmania, Australia. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from
Van Dijk, T. A. (1990). Discourse and Society: A new journal for a new research focus. Discourse and Society, 1, 5–16.

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July — December 2005: Locations and Locutions: Constituting Identity in Language and Place

ISSN 1177-3707

The re-launch of the Centre for Communication Research online journal, Working Papers in Communication Research, offers a series of texts that engage with the issues of language, culture and identity.

Prior to introducing the four texts it may be worth saying something about Working Papers and our aims for its development.

The online journal aims primarily to offer those engaged in research in the broad arenas of the humanities, art, design and communication studies an opportunity to publish research in process as a means for developing or consolidating that research or for the opportunity for peer comment and discussion.

All submissions are peer refereed and if accepted will undergo editorial proofing prior to publication. This may be a valuable process for those who want to develop a text for further publication in an international forum. It also offers a publishing location for new researchers who may need mentoring  in writing for journal publication.

Furthermore it provides an opportunity for experienced researchers, who wish to produce more speculative or open publications than would normally be accepted by their discipline's orthodox press.

Our aim during 2006 is to place material directly on to the website as it arrives for publication, after due review and editing process, rather than collect articles for an issue.

Continuous publication responds to the frameworks and possibilities afforded by online formats. Depending on the number of articles that arrive, we will be archiving the material each six months or yearly into specific volumes and/or issues.

We encourage you to submit material for publication at any time.

The four texts that constitute this re-launch of Working Papers are engaged in analyses of language, place, television-narrative and computer games.

While this is a disparate range of issues that somewhat reflects the range of concerns that the CCR itself spans, we may begin to gather these issues and their interrelations around the theme of identity and its constitutions in languages and locations.


Charles Crothers, from AUT's School of Social Sciences has for some years been undertaking research into the demographics of Auckland, particularly with respect to growth, environment and amenity. His paper, "Aucklanders' Attitudes to Auckland's Growth and Environment" engages initially with literature  on city growth, then more particularly with Auckland.

The research has developed from a series of surveys on environmental amenity and change. By contrast, Lynn Grant from the School of Languages presents research findings on the use of idioms in everyday speech: "In a Manner of Speaking: Assessing Frequent Spoken Idioms to Assist ESL/EFL Teachers".

In particular, her concern is with differences in recorded usage of idioms in British and American language contexts. While we acknowledge that all languages have their standard rules for usage, we also recognize that all languages are constituted in their dispersion by idiomatic differences, local  and regional differences of usage.

Grant's concern is with how language teachers might become aware of the idiomatic strains in everyday speech such that in teaching English as a second language, those unfamiliar with its idioms will come to recognize the located-ness of language via the nuances of its idiomatic differences and those  teaching will be able to recognize their located-ness in relation to dominant idiomatic plays.

Tina Engels Schwarzpaul, from the School of Art and Design, discusses bicultural location in the context of cultural appropriation in the computer games industry: "Dislocating William and Rau: The Wild Man in Virtual Worlds".

Her text traces the development of the Sony computer game, The Mark of Kri, with its direct appropriation of aspects of Māori culture, and the debate that has emerged over the location of the cultural icons embedded in the game's environment as being generalised (globalised) fantasy or directly attributable to Māori culture.

Schwarzpaul focuses on issues of technology and appropriation in developing a comparative reading of The Mark of Kri to the cross-cultural iconography embedded in a celebrated Māori drawing of William Shakespeare with a moko.

The fourth text is from Philippa Smith, herself located in the Centre for Communication Research. Her text, "Raising Anxiety to Construct the Nation: Heartland - A Case Study", like Schwarzpaul's, is concerned with the question of constituting national identities within a bi-cultural framework of nationhood.

Smith engages in a close reading of the television programme "East Coast - Towards the Light" one episode from the series "Heartland" that aimed to define through a televisual travelogue format a picturing of national identity in its difference.

Smith emphasises, in ways that resonate with Schwarzpaul, that identity is a contested field of exchange rather than a site of certain ground.

Smith traces the narrative structure of the episode as one that construes an unfolding disequilibrium such that the text itself may through the elements it has introduced and presented bring about the possibility for a final equilibrium. Thus identity is presented as a potential for conflict and difference,  then an open possibility of mediated exchange. Her research makes reference to the narrative theory of Tzevetan Todorov.

The editors encourage you to consider submitting working publications for this online site, and also encourage you to maintain ongoing reference to this site as a location for engaging in cultural theoretical work.

Editors: Mark Jackson and Philippa Smith

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Vol 1(1) December 2001: Digitisation and Volume 2 (1)

The first issue of Working Papers in Communication is drawn from a conference hosted by Auckland University of Technology in February 2001.

The conference, "Digitisation and Knowledge: Perspectives from Aotearoa/New Zealand" was organised by AUT's Centre for New Media Research, the former incarnation of the Centre for Communication Research. Selected papers from that conference are published here as the CCR's inaugural online publication.

The Digitisation and Knowledge conference framed its agenda in the following terms:

The conference initially posed the question as to what are the relationships between digitisation, knowledge formations and cultural productions? Digitisation and Knowledge aimed to open this question for examination through a range of papers, presentations and demonstrations which focused on and explored  issues around new media technologies and the "knowledge society".

The still recent emergence of digitised knowledge systems and the global proliferation of technologies of visualisation information systems based on digitised processes were seen to present an opportunity to profoundly question the role of knowledge and visuality in the construction of our understanding  of the real.

This panoply of technologies, generically referenced as "New Media", opened a space for negotiating once again the relations between technology and cultural productions.

Thus the aim of the conference was to delineate the problem field posed by digitisation for renewed considerations of our modes of knowing.

The conference established a series of thematic groupings of papers, and three of these groupings are represented in this published selection. These are 'Digital Resources', 'Digitisation and Society', and 'Virtuality and Space'.

Each of these themes focuses on a vital arena of concern regarding the widespread implementation of digital technologies. Digital Resourcing is addressed here in papers that focus on two key institutional sectors, each paper emphasising the extent to which rapid change in information technologies leads  to crucial issues of equity of access.


Steve Knight from the Digital Initiatives Unit at the National Library of New Zealand examines recent initiatives in digitising collections, and measures taken for establishing national standards for digital archiving.

Ruth Lemon, multimedia coordinator at AUT's Te Ara Poutama, a School of the Faculty of Arts (now Applied Humanities) focusing on Maori cultural and language studies, discusses the impact of new media on Maori culture and belief systems and addresses current initiatives in working with web-based  technologies.

A broader framework of analysis is taken with the theme of 'Digitisation and Society', as concern moves from the specific and local institutional milieu to broad philosophical consideration of the political economy of digital technologies.

Via an analysis of the institutional configuration of the university, Sharon Harvey assays the impact of digitisation on the constitution of knowledge in the information age.Harvey, the Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Arts (now Culture and Society) at AUT, explores two specific case studies  of "virtual" universities, those of the Universitas 21/Thomson Learning joint venture and the Malaysian Multimedia University.

In this analysis, Harvey references the important work of Jean Francois Lyotard on knowlege economies and questions whether either of these two emerging models of the new university adequately addresses the politics of social equity.

Brian O. Cusack, from the Faculty of Business at AUT, approaches the issue of the current "knowledge revolution" and, like Harvey, draws on the resources of Lyotard. Cusack argues for a radical "dis-aggregation" of scientific knowledge in order to recognise relations that subtend social spaces and the  self other than those inferred by techno-science paradigms.

This concern with the self's relation to, and formation by, social spaces, while constituting a key concern for Cusack, is radically extended by the contribution of Elizabeth Grierson, from the School of Art and Design at AUT.Grierson's paper, "From Cemeteries to Cyberspace" poses a series of fundamental  questions about the constitution of self in virtual environments. In doing so it begins to draw parallels and fine distinctions between the cemetery as space of occupancy and digital space as architecture of inhabitation.

The paper draws significantly on the writings of Michel Foucault, a philosopher who continually emphasised the intimate relation between knowledge formation and spatiality.

The final thematic, 'Virtuality and Space' is addressed by the contribution of Mark Jackson, also from the School of Art and Design at AUT. This paper addresses directly the contributions currently being made by a range of design theorists and practitioners to the field of architecture and cyberspace.

The paper questions some of the more radical claims currently being made in this field, particularly with reference to new modes of subjectivity afforded by virtual reality and the uneasy imbrication of information technologies and building systems in what is termed "pixel architecture."

Two further papers are included from the Digitisation and Knowledge conference.

In a plenary session address, Brian Opie, from the School of English, Film and Theatre at Victoria University, Wellington, and also President of The Humanities Society of New Zealand (HUMANZ), presented a wide-ranging paper that addressed each of these thematic arenas.

The paper, "The Knowledge Society: Innovation, Multimedia and the Postmodern City", examines the broad impact of digital technologies in defining our cultural lifeworld, processes of change and our contemporary forms of knowing.

As with those addressing resourcing, the paper emphasises the issue of equity with respect to rapidly changing configurations to access of knowledge. This is explored with respect to everyday and ongoing practices in the context of constructing our social spaces of habitation. With this analysis, relations  are established between innovations in technologies of information, knowledge formation and access, and the design of social space.

This latter aspect of design and social space is the focus of the final paper included in this inaugural issue of Working Papers in Communication.

Jonathan Woodham, Director of the Design History Research Centre, University of Brighton, gave the concluding plenary at the conference. Woodham's paper, "Designing Design History: From Pevsner to Postmodernism" details the close relation between the disciplinary emergence and formation of "Design History" and the institutional and economic imperatives that steered its development.

The paper outlines the contemporary impact of digitisation on the field of Design History, particularly with respect to initiatives for the construction of image databases, and the availability of such resources. Woodham's address coincided with the conference launch of the New Zealand Design Archive, a web-based research initiative of the School of Art and Design at AUT, under the direction of Frances Joseph.

This selection of papers is indicative of the breadth of analyses that begin to approach the impact currently being made by technologies of digitisation. Yet, while the thematic issues of digital resourcing, institutional sites and socio-political implications have been addressed here, the theme is hardly exhausted.

Working Papers in Communication will continue to publish on this and related concerns, and welcomes submissions from researchers in a broad spectrum of disciplines who may further the debate on the proposition of a future driven by cybernetic systems.

Editor: Mark Jackson

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