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Analysing Discourse – Analysing Politics: Theories, Methods and Applications Week II: Applications and In-Depth Studies

Michal Krzyzanowski

Uppsala Universitet

Since 2020 Michał has held the Chair in Media and Communication Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Michał is a leading expert in critical discourse studies. His key areas of interest are political, policy and organisational communication as well as media and journalism. He is particularly known for his work on right-wing populism, anti-immigration rhetoric as well as for his research on neoliberal discourses and dynamics of democracy in the context of socio-political transformations.

Michał is also widely recognised for his work on methodological innovations in qualitative research, including discourse-ethnographic analysis of organisational and journalistic practices or discourse-conceptual analysis of dynamics of policy and political discourse.

Read Michał's full biography on the Uppsala University website.


Course Dates and Times

Monday 8 to Friday 12 August 2016
Generally classes are either 09:00-12:30 or 14:00-17:30
15 hours over 5 days

Prerequisite Knowledge

Students attending the course should be open to new, interdisciplinary qualitative methods of research in social and political sciences. They should ideally have some background in relevant social theory as well as in the existent discourse- and language oriented approaches to social and political analysis. Students should be interested in both synchronic and/or diachronic analyses of contemporary national and supranational politics in Europe and beyond, also in relation to other fields such as media, institutions, policy-making, etc.

Short Outline

This course offers comprehensive introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as an empirical approach to research on dynamics of contemporary political and institutional change. The course aims to highlight key approaches in CDA and especially its so-called ‘Viennese’ or Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA), widely recognised for its systematic and empirically funded work on both national and supranational politics in Europe. The course presents CDA as both theory and practice and does so at the background of various linguistic and social-scientific approaches to text and discourse studies as well as at the background of developments in social and political theory. The course takes place in a 1+1 format so both weeks can be taken independently or as a one 2-week module (advisable). The first Week of the course is devoted to theoretical and analytical groundwork with students being introduced to history and development of text and discourse studies as well as to CDA and its relationship to other approaches in discourse analysis. Students are also made initially familiar with key steps and categories of CDA/DHA-inspired analysis. During Week two, students further their analytical skills while using various analytical categories and paths and different types of empirical material analysed in a series of in- and out-of-class individual and group assignments. They are also presented with a series of in-depth applications of CDA/DHA in various analyses of contemporary political, policy and mediated discourse.

Long Course Outline

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA; often also called Critical Discourse Studies or CDS) is a way of carrying out social research with a focus on ‘discourse’ i.e. on text and other forms of semiosis analysed in their contexts of use, production and reception. However, while becoming very popular across the variety of social and political sciences, many features of what CDA is or does remain misinterpreted. For example, CDA is often approached from a limited perspective i.e. as a ‘method’ rather than a coherent approach with a distinct theory and methodology. Though resting on sound theoretical and methodological foundations, CDA is also often viewed as a homogeneous approach with criticism against CDA failing to notify that it is indeed a heterogeneous research tradition which consists of several schools which, while sharing general principles on e.g. the relation between language and power, ideology, differ in their theoretical and methodological ontology as well as their analytical pathways and foci.


By offering comprehensive introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis as an approach to research on dynamics of contemporary political and institutional change, this course wishes to outline key theoretical foundations, methodological premises and analytical pathways in CDA. In doing so, and by clarifying several misconceptions and misinterpretations of CDA that are widespread in social- and political-scientific research, the course wishes to highlight those aspects of critical-analytic studies which make them particularly useful to interdisciplinary and context-related explorations of contemporary politics. By showing similarities and differences between CDA – and especially one of its major traditions known as the Discourse-Historical Approach (or DHA) – and other discourse-based approaches widely-used in social and political studies (e.g. the Discourse Theory initiated by Laclau and Mouffe or other approaches, see below), the course wishes to highlight such advantages of CDA/DHA research as, inter alia, systematic approach to analysis or its clear relation to the levels of pre-analytical theorising and post-analytical interpretation.


The major aim of the course is practical as it wishes to make students familiar with the ways of analysing political and related discourses from a critical-analytic as well as discourse-historical perspective. For this reason, whether within lectures or the related discussion or hands-on analysis workshops, the course aims at showing the practical application of presented theories, methods and analyses. All of these will be related to studies of a wide array of genres incl. those from within the political field itself (e.g. parliamentary and other speeches, party programmes, etc.) as well as from within the related fields of policy-making and administration (regulations, policy documents, etc.) or of media and its representations of politics. The analyses of those genres will be guided by such DHA principles as, inter alia, ‘interdiscursivity’ or ‘recontextualisation’, which allow for relating discourses produced synchronically and diachronically as well as across different contexts and within different texts and genres.


The course takes place in a 1+1 format so both weeks can be taken independently or as a one 2-week module (the latter option is strongly advised for students wishing to acquire a thorough theoretical knowledge as well as in-depth analytical/practical skills in CDA).


The second part of the course – Week II – Is mainly devoted to deepening students’ knowledge and skills of and related to Critical Discourse Studies and especially its Discourse-Historical and related approaches. Morning lecture of Day 6, which opens Week II, focuses on a general placement of CDS/CDA and DHA within the wider landscape of contemporary qualitative research methods. The lecture is hence devoted to discussing the key features of a CDS/DHA research including from the point of view of such standard qualitative methods as interviews, ethnography and text/document analysis. The lecture also focuses on issues related to research design in CDS/DHA and to such critical maters as hypothesising and constructing research questions as well as conceptual puzzles in research projects founded on CDS/DHA.  


The noon workshop on Day 6 looks in detail at various (further) categories of in-depth analysis in CDA/DHA. Here the focus is especially such DHA analytical strategies as discursive strategies of self-other presentation (Wodak, Reisigl) and of representation of social actors (van Leeuwen). By discussing the notion of ‘recontextualisation’ (Bernstein), it is also shown how systematic analysis of discursive strategies can be applied in diachronic analyses of discourse that takes into account recontextualisation of discursive elements across the scales of space and time. The analysis is practiced on a variety of genres from within politics and the public sphere and is performed from the point of view of debates such as, inter alia, British political and media Debates about EU Enlargement (2007).


The morning lecture on Day 7 is devoted to the intersections between discourse & legitimation with the focus on various legitimation and pre-legitimation strategies and their construction in/via discourse. The lecture also explores foundations of the Multimodal CDS and looks at how social-semiotic analyses of images – particularly widespread in online-based modes of communication but also in traditional media – can be conducted and along various types of systematic critical-analytical categories. On the other hand, the morning lectures during Days 8-9 serve presenting applications of CDA/DHA in various in-depth analyses of political, policy and public discourse. They focus in particular on various ‘integrative’ approaches that combine CDA/DHA and other types of analysis thus facilitating exploration of increasingly complex objects of critical-analytic investigation.


The lecture on Day 8 looks, for instance, at right-wing populist discourses about immigration, including in the context of the recent European Refugee Crisis 2014-15. It explores both traditional party-political genres of political communication as well as how social/online media are used in order to mediatise right-wing populist politics incl. by means of its strategies to politicise and stigmatise immigration. On the other hand, lecture on Day 9 highlights the so-called discourse-conceptual approach in CDA that, drawing on DHA and Historical Semantics/Conceptual History, allows investigating the change of salient social and political concepts and related discourses. The focus here is on a variety of genres including policy and policy-communication texts that often serve sustaining regulatory regimes as well as the spread of neoliberalism-induced ideologies and practices.


While the lectures on Days 8-9 serve as an input, the core of Week II remains in hands-on workshops during noon session of Days 8-9 as well as during both morning and noon sessions on Day 10. All of these aim at sharing analyses and related questions between the participants. Thus, the unique benefit of the workshops is not only in getting acquainted with the pathways and categories of analysis but also in gaining practical advice on how to proceed with CDA/DHA analyses within specific research projects as well as in pilot-testing those analyses within the group of researchers. During both workshops on days 8 and 9, in each case max. 2 students will present their research projects (max 6 slides about main hypotheses and research questions, key theoretical and methodological foundations and the outline of the analysed empirical material) as well as provide sample material that will be subsequently analysed by the class from the point of view of CDA/DHA under the guidance of the instructor and TA. On Day 10, results of out-of-class group assignments performed during Week 2 will be discussed along with sample analyses in both morning and noon session. The noon session, which closes the course, also serves a final Q&A exchange between students and instructors. 


NB: Altogether 4 slots of 30-45 min each will be distributed among the students during Day 8-9 workshops. Students willing to present, discuss and analyse their material during those workshops are requested to send to the instructor: (a) their presentations, (b) a max. 1-page abstract of their MA/PhD or other current research with a short bio, and (c) max. 1-2 A4 samples of empirical material which they wish to be analysed by the group. Deadline for sending the material is Friday July 1st, 2016, although it is advisable that, once accepted/registered for the course (so in ca. mid/late May 2016 latest), presenting students get in touch with the instructor as soon as possible in order to facilitate the preparations (see above for contact details) and reserve their slot.


In addition, an individual consultation session will take place on Day 7 (Tue Week II) in order to allow selected 5-6 students to individually discuss their research projects with the instructor.  


Please note that the major aim of the course is to transfer and generate knowledge from discussions and interactions between the instructors and participants and among the students. All students are therefore expected to fully participate in the course (i.e. ask critical questions, complete in time all obligatory readings, actively participate in in-class tasks and discussions and out-of-class assignments, relate obtained knowledge to their current/future research, etc.).

Day Topic Details
Monday Session 1

Analytical Procedures: CDA/DHA as a Qualitative Research Practice (Lecture)

Monday Session 2

In-Depth Analysis: Discursive Strategies and Recontextualisation (Workshop)


Discussion of Out-of-Class Group Assignments for Week 2


Legitimation Strategies and Multimodality/Images in CDS (Lecture, 09:00-10:20)


Individual Consultations to Discuss Student Research Projects (Max. 6 projects / 20 min each; 10:50-13:00)


Applications of CDA/DHA: Right-Wing Populist Discourses in Traditional Political Communication and Online/Social Media – Politicisation and Mediatisation of Immigration and Refugee Crises (Lecture, 09:00-10:15)


Presentation and Group Discussion of 3 Student Research Projects with CDA Analyses of Sample Student Materials (Workshop, 10:30-12:30)


Applications of CDA/DHA: Discourse-Conceptual Analysis of Policy and Policy Communication Genres (Lecture, 09:00-10:15)


Presentation and Group Discussion of 3 Student Research Projects with CDA Analyses of Sample Student Materials (Workshop, 10:30-12:30)

Friday Session 1

Presentation and Discussion of Findings and Results of Out-of-Class Group Assignments I (Workshop)

Friday Session 2

Presentation and Discussion of Findings and Results of Out-of-Class Group Assignments II, Final Q&A, Discussion, Revision (Workshop)

Day Readings

Morning Session:

  • Krzyżanowski, M. (2010). The Discursive Construction of European Identities. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. (esp. Chapter 2: Dimensions of Analysis, pp. 29-67).
  • Ten Have, P. (2004). Understanding Qualitative Research and Ethnomethodology. London: Sage (Chapter 1: Qualitative Methods in Social Research, pp. 1-13)


Noon Session:

  • Reisigl, M. and R. Wodak. (2001). Discourse and Discrimination. London: Routledge. (esp. Chapter 2: The Discourse-Historical Analysis of the Rhetoric of Racism and Antisemitism, pp. 31-90).
  • van Leeuven, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Chapter 2: Representing Social Actors, pp. 23-54).

Morning Session:

  • Machin, D. (2013). What is Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies? Critical Discourse Studies, 10: 347–355.
  • van Leeuwen, T. (2007) Legitimation in Discourse & Communication. Discourse & Communication 1(1): 91–112
  • Krzyżanowski, M. (2014). Values, Imaginaries and Templates of Journalistic Practice: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Social Semiotics 24:3, 345-365.

Morning Session:

  • Forchtner, B., M. Krzyżanowski and R. Wodak (2013). Mediatization, Right-Wing Populism and Political Campaigning. In. M. Ekström and A. Tolson (eds.). Media Talk and Political Elections in Europe and America. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 205-228.
  • Krzyżanowski, M. (2013). From Anti-Immigration and Nationalist Revisionism to Islamophobia: Continuities and Shifts in Recent Discourses and Patterns of Political Communication of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).In: R. Wodak, B. Mral, M. KhosraviNik (Eds.) Rightwing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 135-148.

Morning Session:

  • Krzyżanowski, M. (2016). Recontextualisations of Neoliberalism and the Increasingly Conceptual Nature of Discourse: Challenges for Critical Discourse Studies. Discourse & Society 27(3).
  • Krzyżanowski, M. (2013), Discourses and Concepts: Interfaces and Synergies between Begriffsgeschichte and the Discourse-Historical Approach in CDA. In: In: R. Wodak (Ed.) Critical Discourse Analysis (Vol. 4). London: Sage, pp. 201-214.
  • Krzyżanowski, M. (2015). International Leadership Re-/Constructed? Ambivalence and Heterogeneity of Identity Discourses in European Union’s Policy on Climate Change. Journal of Language and Politics, 14:1,110-133
  • Krzyżanowski, M, (2011). Political Communication, Institutional Cultures, and Linearities of Organisational Practice: A Discourse-Ethnographic Approach to Institutional Change in the European Union. Critical Discourse Studies 8(4), 281-296.
  • Krzyżanowski, M. and R. Wodak (2011). Political Strategies and Language Policies: The ‘Rise and Fall’ of the EU Lisbon Strategy and its Implications for the Union’s Multilingualism Policy. Language Policy 10(2), 115-136.
  • Krzyżanowski, M. and R. Wodak (2011). Political Strategies and Language Policies: The ‘Rise and Fall’ of the EU Lisbon Strategy and its Implications for the Union’s Multilingualism Policy. Language Policy 10(2), 115-136.

Software Requirements

No specialist software will be used except for Power Point, Acrobat Reader etc.

Hardware Requirements

Participants need to bring their own laptops.


Key Sources:

Krzyżanowski, M. 2010. The Discursive Construction of European Identities. A Multilevel Approach

to Discourse and Identity in the Transforming European Union. (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Wodak, R. and M. Krzyżanowski (eds.)(2008). Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the Social Sciences.

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Other Sources:

Billig, M. Ideology and Opinions. Studies in Rhetorical Psychology. (London: Sage, 1991).

Billig, M. Arguing and Thinking. A Rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology. (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Billig, M. Banal Nationalism. (London: Sage, 1995).

Blommaert, J. Discourse: A Critical Introduction. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Discourse & Society. 19. pp. 783-828.

Fairclough, N. Critical Discourse Analysis. (London: Longman, 2010). 

Fairclough, N. Discourse and Social Change. (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992).

Galasińska, A. and M. Krzyżanowski (Eds.)(2008). Discourse and Transformation in Central and

Eastern Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hammersley, M. (1997): On the foundations of Critical Discourse Analysis, in: Language &

Communication. 17:3. pp. 237-248.

Johnstone, B. Discourse Analysis. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).

Krzyżanowski, M and F. Oberhuber. (Un)Doing Europe: Discourses and Practices of Negotiating the

EU Constitution. (Brussels: PIE – Peter Lang, 2007).

Mey, J. (2001): The CA/CDA controversy, in: Journal of Pragmatics. 33. pp. 609-615.

Reisigl, M. and R. Wodak. Discourse and Discrimination. (London: Routledge, 2001)

Renkema, J. Introduction to Discourse Studies. (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2004).

Schegloff, E. (1997): Whose text? Whose context?, in: Discourse & Society. 8. pp. 165-87.

Schegloff, E. (1998): Reply to Wetherell, in: Discourse & Society. 9. pp. 413-6.

Schiffrin, D., Tannen, D., Hamilton, H. (eds.). The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. (Oxford:

Blackwell, 2001).

Stubbs, M. (1997). Whorf’s children: critical comments on CDA, in: A. Ryan and A. Wray (Eds.),

Evolving models of language (pp. 100-16). British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Titscher, S., M. Meyer, R. Wodak, and Vetter, E. Methods of Text and Discourse Analysis. (London:

Sage, 2000).

Toolan, M. (1997): What Is Critical Discourse Analysis and Why Are People Saying Such Terrible

Things About It?, in: Language & Literature. 6:2. pp. 83-103.

Toolan, M. (ed.): Critical Discourse Analysis. Critical Concepts in Linguistics. Four Volumes.

London: Routledge, 2002).

Triandafyllidou, A., R. Wodak and M. Krzyżanowski (Eds.)(2009). European Public Sphere and the

Media: Europe in Crisis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

van Dijk, T.A. Prejudice in Discourse, (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1984).

van Dijk, T.A. Ideology. A Multidisciplinary Approach. (London: Sage, 1998).

Weiss, G. and Wodak, R. (eds.). Critical Discourse Analysis: Theory and Interdisciplinarity in

Critical Discourse Analysis. (London: Palgrave, 2007).

Wetherell, M. (1998): Positioning and interpretative repertoires: conversational analysis and Post-

Structuralism in dialogue, in: Discourse & Society. 9. pp. 387-412.

Wetherell, M. and Potter, J.: Mapping the Language of Racism. Discourse and the Legitimation of

Exploitation. (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992).

Widdowson, H. (1995): Review of Fairclough's Discourse and Social Change, in: Applied Linguistics.

16:4. pp. 510-516.

Widdowson, H. (1996): Reply to Fairclough: Discourse and Interpretation: Conjectures and

Refutations, in: Language & Literature. 5:1. pp. 57-69.

Widdowson, H. (1998): The Theory and Practice of Critical Discourse Analysis, in: Applied

Linguistics. 19:1. pp. 136-151.

Widdowson, H.G. Text, Context, Pretext: Critical Issues in Discourse Analysis (Language in Society,

35). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2004.

Wodak, R. ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, In C. Seale, G. Gobo, J.F. Gubrium and D. Silverman,

(eds.), Qualitative Research Practice, (London: Sage, 2004a), pp. 197-213.

Wodak, R. R. de Cillia, M. Reisigl, K. Liebhart. The Discursive Construction of National Identity.

(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999).

Wodak, R. and Chilton, P. (eds.). New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis. (Amsterdam:

Benjamins, 2007).

Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. (eds.). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. 2nd Revised Edition.

(London: Sage, 2009).

Additional Information


This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.