Critical Realism in Discourse Analysis

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    • 00:05

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN: Hello, my name is Wendy Sims-Schouten.I am a senior lecturer in the Schoolof Education and Continuing Studiesat the University of Portsmouth.I teach, as part of childhood courses,and am also involved in postgraduate researchsupervision.I'm going to talk about our articlein the journal, Theory & Psychology, whichis on critical realism in discourse analysis.

    • 00:27

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: Despite a call for a more critical realist approach,discursive approaches in psychologyhave generally taken a relativist epistemology.What it means is that the extra discursive is treatedas subordinative to the discursive in two ways--first of all, it has been treated as somethingthat's always secondary.

    • 00:47

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: And the other thing is that the extra discursiveis treated as something that can onlybe measured in a discursive.In other words, it's been marginalized.By doing this, what we are feeling--discourse analysis is failing to do a number of things.It's failing to take into account that what we talk aboutis influenced by-- potentially influenced

    • 01:07

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: by-- extra discursive aspects to do with your embodimentand materiality.And it also fails to contextualize talk.So what we are proposing to do is--or what we have done in our article--is develop a method to include critical realistnotions in discourse analysis.Now here, we are drawing on the work by the late Roy Bhaskar.

    • 01:29

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: Roy combines constructionist notionswith critical realist notions to showthat, although meaning-making takes place within language,extra discursive notions also have an impact here.And he used the metaphor of the cookto describe this in more detail, or the chef.What he said is, does the cooking

    • 01:49

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: depend on where the cook lives?Does the cooking depend on the cook himself?Well, not necessarily-- there's more aspectsthat play a role in how cooking takes place-- the utensils youuse, the facilities you have.So there's all sorts of things thatplay a role in how a cook or a chef does his work.

    • 02:11

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: So by proposing a very complex non-linear approachtowards critical realism, what is able to be doneis to actually form a bridge between the naiverealism and a total relativism.In other words, there is a way of actually lookingat how extra discursive elements may have an impact on discourse

    • 02:33

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: people engage in.What we also feel is by taking this particular approachwe do more justice to our participants--because we're looking at them beyond their language.We're looking at what aspects of their lives, their materiality,their embodiment can play a role on how they constructthe world around them.Now, critical realist approaches have been criticized.

    • 02:55

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: Number one, they have been criticized for the factthat what actually can be treated as extra discursive canalso be solely measured within language, within discourse.The other thing that has been mentionedis that there is no systematic approachtowards measuring critical realism in discourse analysis.And that is, in fact, what we've beentrying to do with our specific article, with our work.

    • 03:18

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: So we have developed and proposedthree phases towards a systematic approachtowards critical realist discourse analysis.And we have done it within our framework,or our research on motherhood, female employment, and daycare.So our first phase consists of looking at the literature,and secondary data in the area.

    • 03:38

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: So for example, we found that therewas a link between amount of childrena mother has, or a parent has, and the likelihood of themusing daycare.A link between families and income and daycare, and so on.So we used this information to construct our second phase,which was building a designed form of questionnaires

    • 03:59

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: and checklists that we were presenting to our participants.The questionnaires contained key information, or key questions,to do with the extra discursive factors in our [INAUDIBLE]that we had identified in phase one, linkedto our specific research topic.Phase number three was the discourse analysis, itself.

    • 04:20

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: Basically we used multi-level synthesized discourse analysis.What it meant was that we drew on discursive psychology--for example Potter and Wetherell,and Hepburn-- to look at talking interaction-- avoidingblame, guilt, and so on.We also looked at social constructionsin general, for example the work by Michael Billigis really interesting here.

    • 04:41

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: And within this, we applied the extra discursive.In other worse, we related to the talk, the talkthat he had analyzed, so our multi-levelsynthesized discourse analysis-- which, by the way,also included describing transcriptsin great detail using Jefferson'snotions of transcription.So we compared this to the extra discursive realities,

    • 05:04

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: if you like-- the extra discursiveinformation we had gathered through out checklistsand questionnaires.So what is our study?Our study was a study, as I said before, motherhood,female employment and daycare.We interviewed 40 mothers-- 20 were from the Netherlands,and then 20 were from the UK.All participants lived in rural areas,

    • 05:24

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: about 50 miles away from a city.And participants were either using daycare, child minders,or no daycare at all.So we used semi-structured interviewsand asked them questions about, what do you think of daycare?Why are you using daycare?What's it do for you?What about female employment?Within our analysis, we found that peopleused statements and arguments to justify

    • 05:47

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: why they were using daycare.Justifications could be extreme case formulations,or normalizations like everybody uses daycare, sowhy wouldn't I?Which was really interesting, in and of itself.But we were also able to look at the talk in relationto the extra information we had gathered from the participants.And I just wanted to give you two specific examples.

    • 06:10

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: One example was of a parent who was talking specificallyabout how the daycare center she was usinghad a large outdoor space, which allowed her childto play outside, play with other children,and actually be outside.Now, looking at her situation-- her extra discursive reality,the stuff that she didn't actually talk about--was the fact that she lived in a flat,

    • 06:32

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: and she didn't have access to a communal gardenor outdoor space, and her child couldn't go outside on his own.The other example was of a parent who was specificallytalking about the benefits of daycarefor children's development.She says, children develop, and it helps them learn,and it helps to do all sorts of things.

    • 06:53

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: And interestingly, she had a child--and this, again, didn't come up in her languagein the interview, but it came up as partof the extra discursive data we gathered-- the child hada development delay.He was diagnosed as a child who hadspecific needs, special needs.And as such, you could argue theremight have been a link between her construction of daycare

    • 07:14

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: as benefiting children, and her extra discursive realityof having a child with specific identified needs.We found a number of links-- we found links between the salarya participant has, and how he or she-- mostly she-- constructedfemale employment and daycare.Now what is the future?Where do we go from here?

    • 07:35

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: Our study and our systematic approachhas been applied by others.I has been applied by people in business studies,and it has been applied, for example, in mental healthresearch.And although our study is just a starting point,it's just an approach we have offeredto look, potentially, at the extra discursiveand the discursive.One has to very careful in how you apply it,

    • 07:55

      WENDY SIMS-SCHOUTEN [continued]: as some people would say you cannot just pick and choose.So we are hoping that the systematic approachtowards analysis, which also includes looking at literatureand data in your particular topic,will help you to form a picture of what possibleextra discursive practices or realities couldplay a role in language people engage in.

Critical Realism in Discourse Analysis

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Dr. Wendy Sims-Schouten describes her research on critical realism in discourse analysis. Discourse analysis has been criticized for omitting context from its analysis of discourse. Sims-Schouten and her team formed a method to incorporate extra-discursive data.

Critical Realism in Discourse Analysis

Dr. Wendy Sims-Schouten describes her research on critical realism in discourse analysis. Discourse analysis has been criticized for omitting context from its analysis of discourse. Sims-Schouten and her team formed a method to incorporate extra-discursive data.

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