What is a discursive essay

Cultural world, discourse and lifestyle pp 71-115 | Cite as


It is necessary to present the various approaches that characterize the theoretical field of discourse theory and discourse analysis of French provenance today, to collect their contributions and to systematize them according to the research interest. In particular, with the work of Michel Foucault, discourse theory was taken up as a sociological theory and is now included in the canon of established sociological theories. At the latest with Foucault's definition of the concept of discourse, it is breaking free from its original disciplinary location within linguistics, especially linguistics. Discourses are no longer simply language structures that represent the grammatical order above the sentence level, and discourse analysis no longer describes the formal analysis of the text structure. Rather, discourses are intended as forms of structured and structuring practice, so the concept of discursive practice takes the place of the term discourse. Discourse analysis then draws conclusions on the practice of knowledge construction underlying the texts and seeks to reconstruct the order of knowledge and its origin. This opening up of the discourse concept is accompanied by the emergence of an intermediate discipline “discourse theory”, which can be located between sociolinguistics and areas of sociology (such as the sociology of knowledge, so-called cultural studies, gender sociology, media sociology), but also history, the history of science and others.

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© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften | GWV Fachverlage GmbH 2010

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