An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education
Editor: Rebecca Rogers
Publisher: Routledge/Taylor & Francis
Price: £85.00 and £.99
ISBN 9780415874281 and 74298
Teacher first, researcher second. Educational researchers are often teachers who are keen to understand and address issues that are rooted in their own professional practice. Many enter education precisely because they are concerned about issues of power, equality and justice. It is not surprising, then, that critical discourse analysis (CDA) offers an appealing approach for the educational practitioner, who can use it to link the detail of everyday practice to wider social and political structures. It is not surprising either that practitioner-researchers often find such approaches daunting and confusing, located as they are in theoretical frameworks that are unfamiliar to many.
As Rebecca Rogers shows in her introduction to this second edition, the term "critical discourse analysis" is used in myriad different ways. Many CDA texts do not attempt to contextualise their particular approach among the others that exist, and in my experience research students can find themselves becoming more, rather than less, confused the more they read.
Rogers' text provides a map through some of the best-established terrain. Her introduction reassures researchers that there are many overlapping theoretical frames for CDA, and that it is characterised by "methodological hybridity".
The second edition has been helpfully structured into three parts. Each section has a lead chapter setting out a principal tradition in CDA, followed by three chapters illustrating research situated broadly in that tradition.
The format offers students the opportunity to see how particular approaches might fit the kinds of research questions they want to explore, as well as providing accounts of research that are often fascinating in their own right. For example, Monica Pini's analysis of the discourses of educational management organisations in the US is particularly pertinent to the current situation in the UK, where wide-ranging innovations in school management are under way. A chapter such as this can open neophyte researchers' minds to the possibilities for close and deep analysis of the discourses that are naturalised all around them.
A new accompanying website includes some useful resources for teachers of CDA; the PowerPoint presentations set out the key points from the research chapters very clearly. This volume is not a universally simple introduction to the subject, however. James Gee's lead chapter is delightfully accessible, but some chapters use terminology without explanation and assume familiarity with a range of linguistic theories. Educationalists come from various disciplines, and not all will be equipped with the necessary knowledge. Many undergraduate and postgraduate students of education will find this book too dense and time-consuming to work through. It is not so much an introduction, then, as a valuable textbook for the serious research student.
Who is it for? Research students in education, particularly doctoral research students.
Presentation Well structured, and the website provides useful extension material. However, the level of accessibility varies between chapters.
Would you recommend it? Yes, to research students.
Autism: Educational and Therapeutic Approaches
Author: Efrosini Kalyva
Price: £70.00 and £23.99
ISBN 9780857024886 and 24893
Christine Jarvis is dean, School of Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield.