6th Lancaster Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics and Language Teaching
Conference plenary: Is CDA ready for web 2.0 (and vice-versa)
In recent years, there have been various claims that critical discourse analysis (CDA) is usually applied only to a narrow set of research objects, both in terms of geographical region (i.e. the ‘West’) and social fields (politics, media), and that it should broaden its scope. There have been some clear attempts to engage with this broader research agenda. Simultaneously, there has been an exponential rise in the use of the internet in ways that were not only unknown but perhaps even unimaginable just a few decades ago.
The purpose of this plenary lecture is to examine the theoretical, methodological and practical implications of adopting a CDA
framework in ‘new’ media contexts, particularly when faced with ‘web 2.0’ phenomena such as social networking, crowd- sourcing and participatory media. This is particularly interesting to investigate in an area such as political activism and resistance, where offline, online and hybrid practices rapidly evolve in response to political events, as could be seen in the recent revolutions and political upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East. Different technologies, which are often controlled ‘from above’ by governing elites, are nevertheless adapted and exploited by grass-roots activists to achieve their aims. However, several examples of ‘failed’ revolutions show that these same technologies can then be used to control and persecute dissidents.
Ultimately, CDA is advantageously placed, as a loose, adaptable theoretical approach rather than a rigid methodological framework, to investigate these new contexts. However, a new generation of researchers who are ‘digital natives’ (or at least ‘digital residents’) will have to drive the research agenda forward, and help make sense of the rapidly changing online world.