Inferencing and cultural reproduction: a corpus-based critical discourse analysis

O'Halloran, Kieran (2009). Inferencing and cultural reproduction: a corpus-based critical discourse analysis. Text and Talk, 29(1) pp. 21–51.



On 1 May 2004, the European Union (EU) expanded to twenty-five countries, eight of the ten new countries being from Eastern Europe. Around six weeks prior to this date, the popular British tabloid, The Sun, began to conduct a quasi-campaign which highlighted the detrimental effects of probable immigration from Eastern European countries to the United Kingdom. This article investigates a 26,000-word corpus of quasi-campaign texts from The Sun. I employ Wordsmith Tools 5.0, and a British National Corpus reference corpus, BNC-baby (four million words), to help locate regular “strategies” in The Sun corpus which promote this quasi-campaign, and which position regular target readers into acceptance of them. In turn, I show how cultural reproduction of ideas about projected Eastern European immigration to the United Kingdom can take place in reading a text from The Sun on May 1 which announces the EU expansion. The main focus of this paper is at the “interpretation” stage of CDA (Fairclough 2001). In other words, I make an interpretation of how cultural reproduction can take place over the six weeks indicated. Finally, I use corpus evidence to enhance a CDA “explanation” of the May 1 text in highlighting it as a barometer of social change.

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