Mystification and social agent absences: a critical discourse analysis using evolutionary psychology

O'Halloran, Kieran A. (2005). Mystification and social agent absences: a critical discourse analysis using evolutionary psychology. Journal of Pragmatics, 37(12) pp. 1945–1964.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2004.10.018

Abstract

One focus in Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) has been the detection of absences from texts which mystify the social agents being described. This is the focus of this article, the text-data coming from a UK newspaper website campaign to allow parents access to information about child sex offenders. CDA is explicit about being politically committed in its text analysis. But this commitment becomes problematic when CD analysts are analysing texts to assess how texts are likely to mystify readers generally. To make such assessments valid, I argue that analysts need to try to reduce the intrusion of their own subjectivity especially if they are not members of the target readership. CDA is theoretically eclectic, but absent from its theoretical sources is biologically-based explanation. This article contributes to mystification analysis in CDA. Using the text-data mentioned above as illustration, I show the following: how evolutionary psychology, a biologically-grounded paradigm, can be used as a lens over potentially any text-data relating to child sex offenders to highlight social agent absences which are mystifying for readers generally, while simultaneously reducing analyst subjectivity. The article also contributes more generally to CDA methodology for the detection of mystifying absences from texts. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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