Pitfalls to Beware of While Doing Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis is majorly used in social sciences research where the analysis of interactions and texts is required. This analytical method is used to describe and interpret the statements of subjects on a specific social issue or to analyse and critique the text. However, discourse analysis brings about some pitfalls with it, which researchers and scholars should beware of. Following are a few cautions to be taken while doing discourse analysis:

Methodological issues: Discourse analysis suffers from a few methodological issues. For example, different traditions may have their own concepts and epistemological positions, as well as their own understanding of discourse. Therefore, the meaning of discourse may vary. It is critical for a researcher to take care, as the discourse is open to one’s own interpretation.

Explanatory differences: The concepts may have multiple differences, as well as similarities. In such a case, there may be confusions for the researcher with regard to the explanation of these concepts. While doing discourse analysis, it can be problematic to justify the use of a concept in every analysis.

Narrow technique: Discourse analysis has been critiqued for its lack of explicit techniques available for researchers. Thus, it is considered to be a narrow technique. It is important for scholars to see that it does not become a hindrance during their qualitative research analysis.

Non-concrete: Discourse analysis is not a technique that provides definite answers. Thus, the knowledge or insight gained through this method is a topic of debate.

Under-analysis: The technique has also been critiqued for some analytical shortcomings. For instance, when the analyst simply summarises the statements of subjects, collates the quotations or takes his/her own position on statements, then it cannot be said that the discourse is actually analysed. While there may be under-analysis in some cases, the analysis may not have been done at all in others. It is critical to watch out for under-analysis.

Unsubstantiated claims: While it is important to beware of under-analysis, it is also required to keep a check on another shortcoming, which occurs when the claim is insufficiently substantiated. Only changing the presentation or form of raw data or spotting some of its features is not enough for the real analysis to happen.

It is significant to understand that discourse analysis should be done without any bias, as it suffers from issues regarding interpretation, actual analysis, and explanation of concepts.

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