Research Groups

ICDC has fostered research collaboration and innovation through two research groups. These featured regular guest speakers, discussion and participation from across the University and beyond.

The Internet Research Group

The Internet Research Group (IRG) brought together various researchers of the Internet to share information, including theories and methodological approaches.

It also provided a forum for the exchange of information about researching new media technologies.

The IRG was established in July 2007 in response to burgeoning interest in the Internet on both a national and international level — from social networking to e-commerce and blogging to community informatics.

Several of ICDC's PhD students conducted research into the Internet and the Institute was recently awarded Government funding to participate in the World Internet Project.

The Auckland Group for Critical Discourse Analysis

ICDC's Discourse Research Group (DRG) was established in 2005. For sic years the group brought together academics from AUT and other Universities to discuss and share information about Discourse Analysis.

DRG also had links with the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland to create the Auckland Group for Critical Discourse Analysis (AGCDA).

AGCDA provided a dynamic forum where academics and non-academics alike discussed the meanings, practice, complexities and significance of engaging with critical discourse.

Its committee members included:

  • Professor Allan Bell (ICDC, AUT University)
  • Dr. Edward McDonald (School of Asian Studies
  • University of Auckland)
  • Dr. Mark Amsler (Department of English, University of Auckland)
  • Philippa Smith (ICDC, AUT University)
  • Co-ordinator Alwin C. Aguirre (ICDC, AUT University).

The inaugural meeting held on 24 March 2011 at the University of Auckland featured three presentations that focused on different aspects, meanings and practices of critical discourse analysis:

  • What's not to like about discourse? — Mark Amsler (Department of English, Auckland University)
  • Critical what? — discovering CDA — Alwin C. Aguirre (PhD Student, ICDC, AUT)
  • The perils and pleasures of CDA: a case study of the sinophone — Edward McDonald (School of Asian Studies, Auckland University)

For those interested in discourse analysis the following section of quotes and references provides a useful starting point.

What is discourse analysis?

Discourse is: 'language above the sentence or above the clause'.
(Stubbs 1983:1)

The study of discourse is the study of any aspect of language use.
(Fasold 1990: 65)

[Discourse is] a group of statements which provide a language for talking about a topic and a way of producing a particular kind of knowledge about a topic. Thus the term refers both to the production of knowledge through language and representations and the way that knowledge is institutionalized, shaping social practices and setting new practices into play.
(du Gay, 1996:43)

Having a language is like having access to a very large canvas and to hundreds or even thousands of colors . But the canvas and the colors come from the past. They are hand-me-downs. As we learn to use them, we find out that those around us have strong ideas about what can be drawn, in which proportions, in what combinations, and for what purposes. As any artist knows, there is an ethics of drawing and coloring as well as a market that will react sometimes capriciously, but many times quite predictably to any individual attempts to place a mark in the history or representation or simply readjust the proportions of certain spaces at the margins … Just like art-works, our linguistic products are constantly evaluated, recycled or discarded.
(Duranti 1997: 334)

the analysis of discourse is, necessarily, the analysis of language in use. As such, it cannot be restricted to the description of linguistic forms independent of the purposes or functions which these forms are designed to serve in human affairs.
(Brown and Yule 1983: 1)

Calling what we do "discourse analysis" rather than "language analysis" underscores the fact that we are not centrally focused on language as abstract system. We tend instead to be interested in what happens when people draw on the knowledge they have about language, based on their memories of things they have said, heard, seen or written before to do things in the world: exchange information, express feelings, make things happen, create beauty, entertain themselves and others, and so on."
(Johnstone, 2002:3)

Today individuals working in a variety of disciplines are coming to recognize the ways in which changes in language use are linked to wider social and cultural processes, and hence are coming to appreciate the importance of using language analysis as a method for studying social change.
(Fairclough 1992:1)

Discourses do not just reflect or represent social entities and relations, they construct or 'constitute' them; different discourses constitute key entities (be they 'mental illness', 'citizenship' or 'literacy') in different ways, and position people in different ways as social subjects (e.g. as doctors or patients), and it is these social effects of discourse that are focused upon in discourse analysis. Another important focus is upon historical change: how different discourses combine under particular social conditions to produce a new, complex discourse. A contemporary example is the social construction of the AIDS disease, in which various discourses (e.g. discourses of venereology, of cultural 'invasion' by 'aliens', of pollution) are combined to constitute a new discourse of AIDS.
(Fairclough 1992:3)

The term discourse is widely and sometimes confusingly used in various disciplines. It is helpful to distinguish 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 (e.g. in the work of Foucault): a discourse as a social construction of reality, a form of knowledge.
(Fairclough 1995:18)

The media, and media discourse, are clearly a powerful presence in contemporary social life, particularly since it is a feature of late modernity that cultural facets of society are increasingly salient in the social order and social change. If culture is becoming more salient, by the same token so too are language and discourse. It follows that it is becoming essential for effective citizenship that people should be critically aware of culture, discourse and language, including the discourse and language of the media.
(Fairclough 1995:201)

According to Lee, it is an 'uncomfortable fact that the term "discourse" is used to cover a wide range of phenomena … to cover a wide range of practices from such well documented phenomena as sexist discourse to ways of speaking that are easy to recognise in particular texts but difficult to describe in general terms (competitive discourse, discourse of solidarity, etc.).'
(Lee 1992: 197)

Useful references


  • Bell, A and Garrett, P. (eds) Approaches to Media Discourse Oxford: Blackwell
  • Brown, G and Yule, G. (1983) Discourse Analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Duranti, A. (1997) Linguistic Anthropology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Du Gay, P. (1996) Consumption and identity at work London: Sage
  • Fairclough, N. (1992) Discourse and Social Change Cambridge: Polity Press
  • Fairclough, N. (1995) Media Discourse London: Edward Arnold
  • Fasold, R. (1990) Sociolinguistics of Language, Oxford: Blackwell
  • Gilbert, G.N. and Mulkay, M. (1984) Opening Pandora's Box: A Sociological Analysis of Scientists' Discourse, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Gumperz, J.J. (1982a) Discourse Strategies Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Gunnarsson, B-L, Linell, P. and Nordberg, B. (eds) The Construction of Professional Discourse London: Longman
  • Johnstone, B. (2002) Discourse Analysis Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers
  • Lee, D. (1992) Competing Discourses, London: Longman.
  • Mills, S. (1997) Discourse London: Routledge
  • O'Toole, M. (1994) The Language of Displayed Art, London: Leicester University Press
  • Potter, J. and Wetherell, M. (1987) Discourse and Social Psychology: Beyond Attitudes and Behaviour London: Sage
  • Schriffen, D. (1994) Approaches to Discourse Oxford: Blackwell
  • Stubbs, M. (1983) Discourse Analysis, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Van Dijk, T.A. (ed) (1997) Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction. London: Sage
  • Van Dijk, T. (ed) 1985) Handbook of Discourse Analysis, 4 vols, New York: Academic Press
  • Van Dijk, T. (ed) (1997) Discourse as Social Interaction London: Sage

Journals publishing discourse research

  • Communication Abstracts (AUT e-library)
  • Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies (AUT e-library)
  • Critical Discourse Studies – a new journal that was launched in April 2004 (AUT e-library)
  • Discourse (Berkeley, Calif.) – (AUT e-library)
  • Discourse Analysis On-line – a new on-line journal available through AUT e-library
  • Discourse and Society, published by Sage. (AUT e-library)
  • Discourse Processes (AUT e-library)
  • Discourse Studies, published by Sage (AUT e-library)
  • Human Communication Research (AUT e-library)
  • Journal of Communication (AUT e-library)
  • Journal of Language and Social Psychology (AUT e-library)
  • Journal of Sociolinguistics (AUT e-library)
  • Language and Communication, published by Pergamon/Elsevier (AUT e-library)
  • Language and Discourse
  • Language in Society (AUT e-library)
  • Research on Language and Social Interaction

Compiled by Philippa Smith, Centre for Communication Research, Auckland University of

Centre for Communication Research, Auckland University of Technology, PB 92006, Auckland 1020, New Zealand