The Toolbox, an overview

The Discourse Analysis Toolbox has the following major categories:-

Detailed examination of the chosen discourse strand. In my example. I examine a single document - the UK Government 'aims and objectives' strand for environment, food and rural affairs, for 2001. This strand can be examined for the discourse themes, planes, positions, synchronic and diachronic factors. I describe these theories in greater detail here, and describe more of the nature and mechanisms of discourse here. Larger corpora of material can also be examined
Relationship with other discourses. For example, my text refers to society, economics and food in a variety of ways, and forms a relationship to these other discourses which can be analysed

The Author(s). Who is the author of the text, and what is their identity ?

The Reader(s). Including the Imaginary Reader
The Actor(s). Who (if anyone) are mentioned as able to take action, and how are they referred to (and what does this reveal about the way the author thinks ?)
Actions and Threats of Action. Are any actions promised by the authors, and are any actions expected or threatened form any other source ? See here
The dispositive. For more about the dispositive, see here
Power dynamics. Who has power in this general field, and how is it expressed and referred to ?
Global Trends. Some authors have developed hypotheses of global trends, such as the 'new managerial discourse', or the 'new politics'. Can these or any other ideologies be detected in the passage
Internal Syntax and Dynamics. Is the text a Site of Struggle, or are any other Patterns operating within it, such as Repetition.This section also includes the Situation Analysis
Presentation and Structure. Are there any interesting factors in the physical presentation of the text - colours, typefaces, location in other documents, etc.
Ideational. How is the thought of the author transformed into the message s/he has communicated. What can we infer (guess) about the what the author was trying to do ?
Purpose. What is the overall purpose of the text ?

Not all of these tools are useful in every circumstance, but if a text is systematically examined using the full set of tools, interesting information can be extracted from it.

In the box to the right, I have indicated links to the pages where I have used the individual tools, and also to a cross-reference to the complete text.

The results of the analysis using the tools are on my Food Policy site, which focuses attention on issues of food and food production.

Toolbox Overview
Lobby Influences
The Imaginary Reader
A Site of Struggle
Situation Analysis
Repetition (of "sustainability")
Links and Entanglements
Sample Text Overview


  1. Critics might say that the tools I have proposed are common-sense and/or routine elements of semantics (or "reading between the lines"). I can hardly deny that, except to add that they are much improved by systematising them and using them in a rigorous way that I propose. This attempts to remove them from the realm of commentary and criticism to bring them into the realm of analysis, and this is one of the key aims of CDA. Additionally, using a discourse perspective opens the potential for a deeper analysis.
  2. In any case, a discousre analysis can never be purely impartial - the analyst may try to be impartial, but their assumptions and experience will influence their findings (as an example of this, my direct experience of industrial production means I understand the implications of this differently to someone without this experience - tool)
  3. I am not in favour of campaigning and criticism. My intention is to use these tools to understand "what was in the mind of the author" so that better communication can be established, and the author might be helped to understand the advantages of other approaches. It is not a "point-scoring" approach.

Please contact me if you are interested in using my services.
(0044)(0) 1372-749803

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