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Critical realism, critical discourse analysis and the aporetics of a critical ontology

O'Regan, JP; (2010) Critical realism, critical discourse analysis and the aporetics of a critical ontology. In: Proceedings of the 2010 International Association for Critical Realism Conference. Engaging with the world: agency, institutions, historical formations. IACR: Padua, Italy. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper considers the theoretical intersections between critical realism (CR) and the field of applied linguistics known as critical discourse analysis (CDA). CDA is the study of discourse as a social practice (Fairclough, 2001). The paper identifies six distinctive approaches to CDA and to these correlates the six ‘moments’ or principles of critical realist theory: transcendental realism, critical naturalism, explanatory critique, emancipatory axiology, dialectical critical realism, and the philosophical discourse of modernity (Hartwig, 2007). As part of this mapping process the paper considers the varied meanings of the term ‘critical’ as it exists between and within both fields and attempts to locate the critical realist ‘kernel’ in the critical discourse ‘shell’. Of particular interest is how and whether the turn to discourse in the social sciences and in CDA can be reconciled with the insistence in CR of an accessible ontological reality. The paper argues that the epistemic and linguistic fallacies, by which in CR the ontologically real is reduced to the epistemological and to discourse respectively, misconstrue the turn to discourse as a denial of the real and offers an alternative view. The paper also problematises the ‘trade off’ between epistemic and judgemental relativism in CR (Bhaskar, 1998, 2002) and in more recent versions of CDA (Chouliaraki and Fairclough, 1999), arguing that an aporetic contradiction appears to exist in accepting one and rejecting the other. The paper opens for discussion the nature of this aporia and asks if there is a way to resolve it. The paper concludes by outlining a framework of critical discourse analysis which meshes CDA with the critical inquiry of CR.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Critical realism, critical discourse analysis and the aporetics of a critical ontology
Event: 2010 International Association for Critical Realism Conference. Engaging with the world: agency, institutions, historical formations
Location: University of Padua, Italy
Dates: 19 July 2010 - 20 July 2010
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10085519
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