Discourse analysis can bedescribed a phenomenon which has its own properties which have an influence onindividuals and their social interaction.
The central aspect of discourseanalysis is to emphasize the way in which participants themselves have an at leastimplicit understanding that discourse has these properties (McKinlay and McVittie, 2009). Discourse analysis can be taken to refer to both talk and text (spokenand written utterances). I have read through three extractswhich were taken from the television documentary ‘Keep Them Out’ (Dispatches,2004). Individuals were asked questions about how they felt about asylumseekers joining their community and many of the interviewees were not veryhappy and were also worried about their own welfare. Reading through all threeextracts, most individuals displayed prejudice through their talk usingnumerous discursive strategies. Prejudice is an attitude(usually negative) towards an individual or group that is based on theirmembership of that group. There are many theories which try to explain the causes of prejudicesuch as Badura’s social learning theory.
Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory explains how childrenimitate behaviors from their parents and caregivers. The social learning theory,therefore, suggests parents who are directly perform prejudice in front oftheir children can influence their children to behaviour in the same way andshare similar thoughts and opinions. Tajfel and Turner (1979)also attempt to explain the cause of prejudice. They state that individuals ‘invokepart of their social identity’ whenever they think of themselves as being onegender/ethnicity/class rather than another. Tajfel and Turner (1979) introducedthe social identity theory where they described a series of group processes toallow us understand social groups from the position of the individual. Thefirst process is ‘social categorization’ where we categorize individuals toidentify them.
The second process involves ‘social identification’ where individualsadopt their identity that they have categorized that they belong to. The finalprocess is ‘social comparison’, during this process individuals comparethemselves to other groups and this can lead to prejudice as competition andpositive self and negative other increases. Experimental social psychology believes prejudice is an attitude whichis usually negative towards an individual or group that is based on theirmembership of that group. Experimental psychology is a branch ofpsychology which is concerned with scientific investigation in order to ‘discovercausal and correlated relationships’ which allows researchers to predict andexplain psychological phenomena (Dunn, 2015). Critical social psychology, however, believes that stigma is a socialaction performed in talk.
Criticalpsychology focuses on the individual rather than the group and larger society.Critical psychology believes mainstream psychology over emphasizes, ‘individualisticvalues, hinders the attainment of mutuality and community, and strengthensunjust institutions’ (Fox, Prilleltensky and Austin, 2009). In this practical the researchquestion we produced and tried to answer was, “how do individuals doprejudice?” which we will be discussing throughout this report.
Methodology:In this practical, I was the researcher conducting an analysis of howindividuals displayed prejudice through their talk. The participants were theindividuals being interviewed on the TV programme ‘Keep Them Out’ (Dispatches,2004). The individuals discussed how they felt about asylum seekers joiningtheir community. I was given a copy of the interview that these participants wereinvolved in.
Whist viewing the TV programme, I was able to witness and identifyvarious discursive strategies used. Ethics is an important factor in research. When carrying out this sortof research it is important for a researcher to have respect for anindividuals’ autonomy and dignity. The research conducted should also have ascientific value and social responsibility. Psychologists should also protectthemselves and their participants from harm e.g.
the right to withdraw at anytime (BPS, 2010). Findings:Prejudice was a common theme displayed throughout all three extracts.Individuals that were interviewed displayed discursive strategies through theirtalk. Potter and Wetherell (1987) claim that patterns in talk around race isoften a set of ‘descriptions, arguments and accounts’ that individuals use in theirrace talk to create versions of the world. Also, discursive repertoires such as, ‘positiveself and negative other presentation, grounding one’s views as reflecting theexternal world rather than one’s psychology and the denial of prejudice’ weredisplayed throughout the extracts. Billig(1988) believed that prejudging is a combination of ‘irrationality, poorreasoning and unexamined views. To prejudge individuals is seen to be violatingsocietal rules in which reason and rationality has become of an increase.
Therefore, it is vital to individuals within society not to appear prejudiceand present their views and opinions as reasonable and rational. Billig (1988)suggested that a successful way of doing this is for one to express their views’reflecting on the external world rather than one’s internal psychology’ andtherefore potentially being racist but is not seen to be prejudging. Extractone begins with an interviewee describing how their “colonial friends” havemoved into the Oxford Road area of Reading (Dispatches, 2004). The term’colonial’ presents a negative view of the outgroup, no names are mentioned ofthe individuals whom have moved in and instead a term has been given to labelthe group as outsiders. “Colonial” is also an inappropriate explicitnon-prejudice term which also known as political correctedness.
The issueaddressed in this extract is housing and the means of mentioning the term”colonial” displays the interviewee has already a stereotypical view and made assumptionsabout this out-group. However, the use of the term “friends” allows theinterviewee to justify their comment and allows their race talk to be seen asnon-prejudice. The term “friends” allows individuals to believe that thein-group is welcoming and friendly. Van Dijk (1992), claims that this strategyis commonly used where individuals redefine racism so that their views andactions are not presented as racist. Theinterviewee further explains that these individuals have “took” over the road(Dispatches, 2004). The verb “took” suggest that this group of individuals havetaken something that does not belong to them suggesting that this group ofminorities have ‘stole’ something which is not theirs. This implies that thisminority group does not conform to societal values and norms where ‘stealing’is wrong. This presents a discursive strategy known as de-racialization(presenting negative views of out groups as a concern with more socially acceptableissues) where the interviewee indirectly identifies this out-group as differentwithout making reference to their race whilst creating assumptions.
Extracttwo, the interviewee claims that he has “nothing against” the minorityout-group “not one little bit” (Dispatches, 2004). This ubiquitous disclaimer(denial of prejudice proceeding a negative representation of an out-group) allowsthe interviewee not to be perceived as prejudice or racist. It is said that one of theextensive features of race discourse is the denial of prejudice.
Pervasive disclaimerssuch as “I’m not racist but …” are preceded regularly and often have anegative representation and evaluation on minorities. Race talk, therefore tothis present day is said to be deliberately organised to deny racism.Individuals have changed the way in which their language/talk is worded toprevent being seen as ‘racist’ or possible charges of prejudice.
Individualswhom desire to express negative views against out-groups in this historicalclimate ‘take care to present these views as justified, warranted, and rational'(van Dijk, 1992).Extract three, the interviewee mentions thatthe minorities whom have moved in “haven’t got any jobs to do so presumablythey would just be in gangs talking amongst themselves, probably smoking”(Dispatches, 2004). Positive self and negative other presentation is identifiedhere. The interviewee has already a stereotypical view on this out-groupbelieving that they have no jobs and are up to no good whilst indirectlyimplying that they are more useful to society by having jobs and not doinganything which is out the norms of society, Membership category features (descriptivetraits which are inferentially linked to a category) is a discursive strategythat can be identified here, the interviewee is stating that all members inthis out-group are jobless and deviant. Positive self and negative other presentation is anotherkey feature of race talk displayed in the extracts. Individuals can beperceived as prejudicial using an ‘us and them distinction’ where individualsin the in-group present themselves as favorable when compared to an out-group.Individuals within the in-group will present themselves in a positive light andbeing different and better than those in the out-groups. This discursivestrategy can work as a denial of prejudice as individuals are not directlyprejudging individuals, however, individuals can be perceived to indirectlyconstruct negative assumptions about an out-group whilst protecting the speakerfrom charges on racism and prejudice.
Van Dijk(1992) also argues that positive self-presentation also protects the dominantin-groups. Discursive strategies such as ‘civil rights slogans and nationalistrhetoric’ are often used by the elites to present themselves as amicable,friendly, and rational, while characterizing the minorities as problematic. Theelite also criminalized the minorities portraying them as deviant andtroublesome. Van Dijk(1992) also claims that individuals to validatetheir views, often ‘appeal to observable and thus purported “factual” claimsabout minority out-group behaviour’ that is exemplified as negative,antisocial, or disobeying the in-group’s social norms. Discussion:To summarize, holding prejudicial views can make an individual lookirrational and unreasonable and therefore is something that should be avoided. It has also been shown that individualsuse numerous strategies to avoid appearing prejudice.
However, by using thesestrategies, individuals are still able to make claims that may function toserve prejudice. The research question for this practical was, ‘how do people doprejudice?’. Discursive strategies such as, positive self and negative otherpresentation, denial of prejudice, the grounding of views reflecting theexternal world and discursive de-radicalization are all ways in whichindividuals do prejudice.Direct forms of prejudice, is frequently referredto as “old-fashioned racism,” which has recently been replaced with a subtler and covert change known as”modern” (McConahay, 1986), “symbolic”. Although,this ‘modern’ and ‘new racism’ is said to subtle and covert (Barker, 1981),many critics have argued that what is declared to be modern and symbolic alternativesof racism is not racism at all but ‘rather political and ideologicalconservatism (Sniderman & Tetlock, 1986). Bandura’s(1977) social learning theory and Tajfel and Turner’s (1979) social identitytheory (as mentioned above) have allowed us to understand why individuals andgroups do prejudice. The social identity theory allows us to gain a betterunderstanding on why individuals favor the in-group and perceive those in theout-group as non-favorable and outsiders.
Condor (2006) arguesthat discursive psychologists pay too much attention on how individuals avoid beingaccused of prejudice. He believes that discursive psychologists fail tounderstand what individuals understand from the term ‘prejudice’ and thereforewhat they may be trying todistance themselves from. Foggou and Condor (2006) have alsofaulted the discursive understanding of the term ‘prejudice’ in relation towhich researchers use the term ‘prejudice’ and ‘racist’ in the same contextwithout taking into consideration that they are two different concepts. Therefore,individuals can be prejudice without being racist and vice versa. Despite the critiques on the what isunderstood by the term ‘prejudice’.
Discourse analysis allows researchers tolook at ‘real data’ (Brain, 2000). When carrying out this practical we viewed areal conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee and therefore madeour method valid. Another advantage of discourse analysis is that it tends touse a small number of participants which makes it easier for the researcher toconduct. However, a disadvantage of discourseanalysis is that any analysis, even of the same material is most likely goingto be different and therefore the method of discourse analysis is not valid.Discourse analysis is also said to be subjective as the discourse between theresearcher and participant can be linked to what is studied and therefore bias(Brain, 2000). Also, using a small number of participants can be easier for theresearcher, however, it does not allow the results to be generalizable.
Discourseanalysis can also be extremely time consuming. When conducting this practical, therewas other students that viewed the same video clip and analyzed the sameextracts. One of the limitations, included that we all had different analysisof the texts. Although we agreed on some of our analysis, we had differentviews about if an individual was being prejudice or not.To conduct, this report hasoutline an overview of the various discursive patterns of formal and informaltalk about race.