Critical Discourse analysis and Ideology has become crucial issue nowadays. Ideology is an important concept in CDA, as it refers to the set of beliefs, values, and assumptions that shape how we understand and make sense of the world. Ideologies can be seen as the underlying frameworks that shape our perceptions and understanding of social reality. CDA is interested in how ideologies are reflected in and constructed by discourse, and how they shape the ways in which social identities and issues are represented.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
1. What is Critical Discourse Analysis?
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a theoretical and methodological framework that aims to study the ways in which language is used to construct and maintain social power relations. It focuses on the ways in which language is used to construct and represent social identities, groups, and issues, and how these representations are used to maintain or challenge existing power relations.
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CDA is concerned with the ways in which discourse, or language in use, is shaped by and shapes social identities, relationships, and power dynamics. It aims to understand how discourse is used to reproduce, challenge, or change social relations of power, and how language is used to construct and maintain social identities and groups.
2. What is Ideology
The term ideology is one of the most disputed terms. It has two meanings: the first one as a negative connotation that entails any set of beliefs that goes against the previously existing norms, and as a positive connotation that refers to any investigating on social practices. Generally speaking, Chandler and Munday (2011), define ideology as:
A highly contested term most broadly referring to attitudes, ideas, ideals, beliefs, doctrines, values, worldviews, moral views, and political philosophies acting as an interpretive frame of reference. Usually relating to relatively coherent systems of ideas held by social groups or those in particular social roles within a culture but sometimes also to the more fragmentary forms of common sense. (p. 199)
The above extract by Chandler and Munday is a general description of how ideology is generally perceived. For them, it refers to a set of overlapping social norms and practices, such as attitudes, set of beliefs, values and doctrines of a particular group or individual. In media discourse for instance, we infer that no news headline is ideologically neutral.
According to Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch (2009), ideology was previously seen as a ‘science of ideas’, but after few decades it has gained a negative connotation that was mirrored in the vague concept of ‘false consciousness’ used by Marx and Lenin. Van Dijk, however, argues that ideologies should not always be perceived negatively because ideologies, as social norms shared by groups, are not only used to legitimate power abuse (domination) but also to bolster resistance.
Furthermore, the Oxford Dictionary of Media and Communication (2011) defines ideology as “an interpretive framework employed by social groups in order to make sense of the world from their own perspective” (p. 200). In other words, some social groups or individuals legitimize their own behavior based on their common sense of the world.
Additionally, Althusser (1971) states that “ideology is the system of the ideas and representations which dominate the mind of a man or a social group.” (p. 15). He adds that it is essential to realize that both readers and writers are themselves subjects, and therefore ideological subjects who are considered “ideological animal by nature” (p. 20). To elaborate on the idea, Althusser believes that no one is excluded from the impact of ideology.
From the Islamic perspective, and in contrast to what is widely believed about ideology as a threat to Islam, the Islamic scholar Nasr (1994), as cited in Belmkki (2013), assures that there is no distinction between the Islamic and the ideological perspectives and that we cannot clearly and totally exclude one from the other. At another point, Fairclough (2003) argues that ideologies are representations of aspects of the world which contribute to establishing and maintaining relations of power, domination, and exploitation. They may take place in ways of interaction that lead to shaping and reshaping identities. Thus, we conclude that religion as one aspect of the world and of identity cannot get rid of ideology.
2. Critical Discourse Analysis and Ideology
The role of CDA in ideology is to reveal how the biased language mirrors and strengthens biased attitudes and policies. Fairclough (1995) demonstrates that “ideologies reside in texts” (p71). Texts are not ideologically neutral and it is impossible to read off ideologies from every different aspect of life. In ideology, the issues of nationalism, patriotism,and jingoism are so important in addition to the issues of domination and power relation reflected in the language used by the participants in each conflict.
From the socio-cognitive perspective, Van Dijk (1998) points out that “ideologies may be very succinctly defined as the basis of the social representations shared by members of a group.” (p. 8). In other words, ideologies allow people, as group members, who live in a particular society to give meaning to social beliefs according to what they consider as wrong or right. Those who do not fit in are being discarded.
Additionally, Van Dijk (1995b) claims that “ideologies are typically, though not exclusively, expressed and reproduced in discourse and communication, including non-verbal semiotic messages, such as pictures, photos, and movies” (p.17). With reference to media discourse, ideologies as discussed in the ingroup and outgroup section emphasizes the representation of ‘Us’ (the ingroup) as a welcomed group who share with us the same social beliefs and the negative representation of ‘Them’ (the Outgroup) who oppose what is agreed upon among the ingroup.
Generally speaking, CDA makes people realize that ideology and language are inseparable. It also shows how the spoken or written language by people of a particular society or institution often reflects their ways of thinking, ideology, identity, and power. To make it plain, language is always affected by ideologies and we acquire that language through social communication and later we boost it when we constantly engage in the processes of listening, speaking, reading, and writing with different groups and cultures.
With reference to news as ideological discourse, CDA scrutinizes how and where ideology is manifested in news reports. As is the case in most aspects of life, the news is also fraught with ideologies. Henry and Tator (2002), as cited in Ghazal (2015), regard CDA as a “tool for deconstructing the ideologies of the mass media and other elite groups and for identifying and defining social, economic, and historical power relations between dominant and subordinate groups” (p. 144).
Meaning, CDA helps to investigate where and who practices ideology in media and whether external factors like economic factors among others affect the actors in news production and consumption. One could assume then that news channels, such as Aljazeera English, BBCWN, and CNNI, are generally affected by ideology and that the aim of CDA is to demystify how people differentiate between what is a fact in news stories and what is purely ideological.
Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch (2009) believe that “dominant political ideologies in various countries, as shared by the media, also explain differences in the account of international events: Enemy states and friendly states or allies are of course systematically covered in a different way” (p. 199). Journalists of the ingroup influence the news and the newsmaking by using the language that favors their nationalist ideology. They are also capable of controlling the content and shaping the readers’ opinions. To do so, media has its own special discourse to employ in news production, interpretation, and distribution.
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