Call for papers for a special issue of Critical Discourse Studies: Ethics of Critical Discourse Studies (Guest Editor: Phil Graham)

Dear all,

Another interesting call, this time for articles, for a special issue of the journal Critical Discourse Studies.

Warm regards,

Your ACDC convenors

Call for papers: Critical Discourse Studies, special issue on Ethics of CDS

The first issue of CDS pointed towards an aim for the field, namely the possible explication of an ethical or normative program associated with the field. At the time we put the issue under the head of ‘strategic critique’, noting that it can give ‘a practical anchorage to the normative or positive dimension of critique’ (Fairclough, Graham, Lemke, and Wodak, 2004, p. 5). Teun Van Dijk is even more explicit, noting that ‘any critique by definition presupposes an applied ethics’ (1993, p. 253). The question at which this special issue aims is: precisely what kinds of ethical frameworks underpin critical studies of discourse? What kinds of ethical positionings do critical analyses take in order to enact their social, cultural, and economic ends? What normative or positive ends do critical analyses typically aim at? Is it an inherently ethical pursuit or are there approaches to CDS that neither require nor imply ethical positionings?

The implicit ethics and moral philosophy of CDS have themselves often been objects of criticism. Kate McFarland summarises a number of those critiques put forward by Henry Widdowson, Michael Toolan, Roger Fowler, and Hugh Tyrwhitt-Drake among others, which includes the field having a ‘moralising element’, a ‘self-righteous attitude’, as being ‘uniformly of the political left’ while claiming diversity, and attracts the charge that ‘its philosophical foundations are not made explicit but are instead taken for granted as unproblematic’ (2006: 3-4). Peter Jones (2007) criticises Critical Discourse studies as having no moral basis at all because of its grounding in an abstract grammar, concluding that the field in fact cannot possibly exist because its methods do not permit of ethical analysis.

This special issue addresses the important ethical issues associated with CDS and takes seriously their implications for the field. It seeks papers that cover areas including:

  • Ethics in CDS: comparative papers on implicit ethics in different approaches to CDS. Is there a common ethical approach unifying the field? If not, how can various implicit ethical approaches be categorised or understood in systematic ways?;
  • Ethics of CDS: papers that consider the ethical positioning of studies based in CDS. Are they overtly moralistic? Radicalising? Self-righteous? In what senses do researchers position themselves ethically in relation to the people whose lives they aim to improve? What are the unaddressed and important ethical challenges facing CDS researchers, in terms of either the research being done, the problems being researched, or the research subjects?
  • CDS and social responsibility: papers that take an angle on the responsibilities of critical research in general and CDS in particular. Is it enough simply to “lift the veil” of ideology, hegemony, and so on, to make obvious that which is oppressive or oppressing, or to give voice to issues that have been silent or silenced? Are such goals even relevant in an era of almost total information?

The call for papers is open to these and any other topics that address the ethical, moral, or evaluative aspects of CDS. Critiques of the field’s ethics are of course welcomed. Abstracts are due by October 31, 2015 with full papers to be delivered by March 31, 2016. Please correspond with Phil Graham if you wish to be involved:

Fairclough, N. (2003). Analyzing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.
Fairclough, N., Graham, P., Lemke, J., and Wodak, R. (2004). Introduction. Critical Discourse Studies, 1 (1): 1-7.
Jones, P. E. (2007). Why there is no such thing as “critical discourse analysis”. Language & communication, 27 (4): 337-368.
McFarland, K. (2006). Strengthening Critical Discourse Analysis: The Babybook Revisited. London: Routledge. [see accompanying web resources].
VanDijk, T. A. (1993). Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse & Society, 4 (2): 249-283.

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