Session: Unpacking the Worlds in Our Words: Critical Discourse Analysis in Social Work Inquiry (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

150 Unpacking the Worlds in Our Words: Critical Discourse Analysis in Social Work Inquiry

Friday, January 17, 2020: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Liberty Ballroom O, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Sandra Leotti, MSW, PhD Candidate, Portland State University, Nick Winges-Yanez, PhD, University of Texas at Austin and Erin Sugrue, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field of inquiry that combines linguistic analysis and social theory to address the way power and dominance are enacted and reproduced in text. Unlike more traditional forms of discourse analysis, CDA is not exclusively concerned with the minutia of linguistic units or the structure of grammar, but rather with the construction of larger social phenomenon and involves a focus on the wider social, political, and historical contexts in which talk and text occur, exploring the way in which theories of reality and relations of power are encoded and enacted in language. Unlike content analysis, CDA moves beyond what the text actually says to examining what the text does. Critical discourse analysts argue that we not only say things, but we do things by saying things (Gee, 2011) and it is through this doing that we continuously build and rebuild our social worlds and our own identities. Above all, CDA is concerned with a critical analysis of social practices and the reproduction of dominant belief systems in discourse (defined here as context specific frameworks of meaning-making that inform action and (re)create the limits of what can be known).

As an interdisciplinary and eclectic field of inquiry, CDA has no unifying theoretical perspective, standard formula, or essential methods. As such, there is much confusion around what CDA is, what it is not, and the types of projects under which it can be fruitfully employed. This roundtable seeks to provide clarity on critical discourse analysis as an approach to research and to highlight its relevance to social work scholarship, particularly in relation to its vital role in identifying and analyzing how discursive practices establish, maintain, and promote racial and economic inequality. We will provide an overview of the central concepts and principles that are salient in all approaches to CDA, describe how critical discourse analysis can enhance social work research (in its own right and in conjunction with other methodologies), and illustrate ways in which CDA is an essential tool for addressing our field's Grand Challenges. We will present three specific projects, each embodying different theoretical and methodological approaches, in order to highlight the flexibility of CDA in addressing a diverse range of research questions and concerns. The goal of this roundtable is to stimulate discussion on this growing area of social scholarship and increase awareness regarding CDA's innovative potential for interdisciplinary and intersectional research in our field.

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