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Discourse in Late Modernity

Rethinking Critical Discourse Analysis

Lilie Chouliaraki, Norman Fairclough


Discourse in Late Modernity sets out to show that critical discourse analysis is strongly positioned to address empirical research and theory-building across the social sciences, particularly research and theory on the semiotic/linguistic aspects of the social world. It situates critical discourse analysis as a form of critical social research in relation to diverse theories from the philosophy of science to social theory and from political science to sociology and linguistics. First, the authors clarify the ontological and epistemological assumptions of critical discourse analysis - its view of what the social world consists of and how to study it - and, in so doing, point to the connections between critical discourse analysis and critical social scientific research more generally. Secondly, they relate critical discourse analysis to social theory, by creating a research agenda in contemporary social life on the basis of narratives of late modernity, particularly those of Giddens, Habermas, and Harvey as well as feminist and postmodernist approaches. Thirdly, they show the relevance of sociological work in the analysis of discursive aspects of social life, drawing on the work of Bourdieu and Bernstein to theorise the dialectic of social reproduction and change, and on post-structuralist, post-colonial and feminist work to theorise the dialectic of complexity and homogenisation in contemporary societies. Finally, they discuss the relationship between systemic-functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis, showing how the analytical strength of each can benefit from the other.

  • Sets out a new and distinctive theoretical grounding and research agenda for critical discourse analysis
  • Interdisciplinary in scope
  • Draws on a broad range of theories and approaches

About the Author

Lilie Chouliaraki is Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen.

Norman Fairclough is Professor of Language in Social Life at Lancaster University.


On every page there is evidence that the authors have thought long and productively about CDA's connections with and differences from social theories … In sum, this is a deeply-considered contribution.
This book is a timely addition to the ongoing theoretical debate about the nature of the social world today and ought to be of considerable interest to teachers and researchers in linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, education and politics, as well as intercultural communication.
An eloquent introduction to the basic tenets of a critical approach, in the Fairclough tradition, to discourse as an element of social practice.
A significant contribution to the ongoing establishment of an important new tradition in the social sciences.
This is a well-written, accessible, and provocative example of the post-disciplinary analysis so necessary to understanding, explaining, and contesting the key institutional and socio-cultural features of late modern social formations.
- Bob Jessop