Discourse Theory and Political Analysis: Identities, Hegemonies and Social Change
Manchester University Press, Nov 18, 2000 - Social Science - 243 pages
How can recent developments in post-structuralist, post-Marxist, and psychoanalytical theory actually inform ongoing empirical research? What are the appropriate methods and research strategies for conducting research in discourse theory and analysis? How can concepts such as hegemony, identity, the imaginary, dislocation, and empty signifiers illuminate key aspects of contemporary society and politics? This pathbreaking and multi-focal book contains a clear introductory statement of the theoretical approach used, and concludes with an assessment of the future directions of discourse theory in the social sciences.
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This is an excellent introduction to the 'discourse-theoretic' approach to political analysis - even/especially for readers who are not wholehearted adherents to that paradigm. Whilst much work in discourse theory veers dangerously towards obfuscation in language style and theoretical complexity, Norval, Howarth and Stavrakakis have compiled a collection of essays which are generally noteworthy for their clarity and precision. Those seeking to understand the post-structuralist-influenced 'Essex school' of discourse theory and ideological analysis will find this book a highly useful compendium, especially the excellent introductory chapter. I remain somewhat underwhelmed by many of the examples of applied discourse-theory presented in the book, however. These don't really assuage concerns that the heavy theoretical and methodological complexity of discourse theory in the post-structuralist tradition is not actually matched by the insights and analytic power produced when that methodology is applied. Nevertheless, this is a book that needs to be read, and engaged with, by the wider field of ideological studies and political analysis more generally.
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