Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines 2012

New tools for critical discourse studies in new media contexts

University of Minho, Braga, Portugal



In this paper, I suggest guidelines for researchers who wish to study ‘new’ media contexts from a critical discourse studies (CDS) perspective, based on the findings of the Political Resistance Online Research Project. While there is a large and continually growing volume of work in computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA, see Herring 2008), and there have been a number of successful attempts to apply CDS in online contexts (e.g. Wright & Wodak 2006), CDS scholars have traditionally been rather reluctant to engage with new media (Mautner 2005), and CMDA scholars have not necessarily engaged with the socio-political contexts of data.

I examine some of the theoretical, methodological and practical implications of adopting a CDS framework in online contexts, particularly when faced with ‘web 2.0’ phenomena such as social networking, crowd-sourcing and participatory media. This is especially interesting to investigate in relation to activism and political resistance, where offline, online and hybrid practices rapidly evolve in response to political events, as could be seen in recent revolutions and political upheaval (e.g. the Arab Springs and the Occupy Movement). Different technologies, which are often controlled by governing elites, are nevertheless adapted and exploited by grass-roots activists to achieve their aims. Ultimately, CDS is advantageously placed, as a loose, adaptable theoretical approach rather than a rigid methodological framework, to investigate these new contexts, but it requires new tools to fully realise its potential.


Herring, S. C. (2008). Computer-Mediated Discourse. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, & H. E. Hamilton (Eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis (pp. 612-634). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Mautner, G. (2005). Time to get wired: Using web-based corpora in critical discourse analysis. Discourse & Society, 16(6), 809-828.

Wodak, R., & Wright, S. (2006). The European Union in Cyberspace: Multilingual Democratic Participation in a virtual public sphere? Journal of Language and Politics, 5(2), 251-275.

  1. Daniela said:

    Hello. Would it be possible to get a copy of your paper?

    • Hi Daniela, it’s not written up as a paper yet – you can either cite the website, or perhaps have a look at a more recent presentation on a related topic, to which I’ve added some more detailed notes:

  2. Daniela said:

    Great! Where can I find the presentation you mention? I downloaded your references and I’m going to listen to your presentation and check the prezi. I have to do a piece of research for my MA and I’m still in the process of finding something worth studying. I know it’s in this area, I just need to read more about it, so any other references you could share would be appreciated 🙂


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