1 AN INTRODUCTION TO A POSTMODERN APPROACH . TO educational research : discourse ANALYSIS. LAETITIA ZEEMAN. MARIE POGGENPOEL. CPH MYBURGH. N VAN DER LINDE. Faculty of Education and Nursing, Rand Afrikaans University, Republic of South Africa This article serves as an INTRODUCTION to discourse analysis. Due to logistical reasons, because this is a relatively new and multi- faceted APPROACH in research , this article involves only introductory remarks about discourse analysis as APPROACH to qualitative, reflexive educational research . Different POSTMODERN "approaches" to qualitative nursing research derived from other disciplines are being rooted in nursing as epistemology.
2 Dis- course analysis is introduced as a Poststructuralist and Social Constructionist " APPROACH " to educational research developing within the POSTMODERN line of thought. The ideas on discourse analysis as a research APPROACH ' of Parker (1992: 6-20) and Terre Blanche & Durrheim (1999: 154-167) are discussed. Dis- course analysis could serve as a valuable " APPROACH " in educational research as it challenges current dominant ways of understanding or viewing the objects of study. This process opens up space for alternative reflections that could lead to change. Postmodernism is not a school of being rooted in education as an episte- thought. It is not a unified intellectual mology.
3 discourse analysis will be movement with a definite goal or per- introduced as a Poststructuralist and Social spective. "Postmodernism can be the set Constructionist " APPROACH " to education- of ideas which try to define or explain the al research developing from a postmodem state of affairs in society or a word used in line of thought. many different contexts to cover many dif- The value of this research lies under ferent aspects (Ward, 1997:4)" Postmodem alia in the following:Postmodernism cre- theory sets about dismantling most of our ates distance for the generation of normal ways of thinking about how mean- alternatives in inter alia the culture, lan- ing interpretation and reality works.
4 This guage, ways of thinking, stories and dismantling process is also visible in edu- interpretations. The existence of altemative cation and educational research . Different stories on one event, the existence of more POSTMODERN "approaches" to educational than one interpretation of the world and research derived from other disciplines are the thought that the self has more than one 96. An INTRODUCTION view or part bring about big shifts and free- Structuralism dom. "Structuralism is thought of as an Narrative therapy originated from the APPROACH or method rather than a clearly poststructuralistic way of thinking and the defined discipline" (Ward, 1997:80).
5 The social constructivism. It works through the object of study in structuralist thought is deconstruction of previous therapeutic the system and structure of language and models, therapeutic practices and domi- how meaning is generated. To summarise: nant discourses that exist inside the culture Structuralism asks where meaning come group. discourse analysis does not describe from: "Does it come from the text itself? and explain the world. It does not make Does it come from the context in which any claim on the truth, it is a reflexive the text is consumed: Is the reader free to process that is directed at change and create his or her own meaning? To what progress.
6 Degree can the author of a text control how Problem Statement it is interpreted? Does the production of discourse analysis has not widely been meaning arise from the interaction of these described in literature as a qualitative factors. If so, how do they interact?". " APPROACH " in educational research . In (Ward, 1997:88). South Africa this research " APPROACH " is Structuralist thought in research stud- reasonably unfamiliar in educational ies the deeper or underlying systems in research . " discourse analysis has its roots language practices and how meaning is in linguistics, literary studies, and anthro- produced. "Structuralism and Poststruc- pology" (Ward, 1997:129).
7 It is being turalism form much of the philosophical practiced at present in virtually al of the background of postmodem theory" (Ward, humanities and the social sciences. Dis- 1997:80). Within the Postmodem line of course analysis is an interdisciplinary thought Poststructuralism developed from research " APPROACH " and can be of great the above mentioned central Structuralist worth if it is derived as Social Construc- ideas. tionist and Poststructuralist epistemology Poststructuralism into educational research . Poststructuralist ideas received wide- Paradigm spread attention with the work of "Michel " discourse analysis is a qualitative Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Barthes".
8 research design" (Terre Blanche & Dur- (Gavey, 1998:460). This line of thought rheim, 2000:48). It should first be situated is also informed by "post-Sassurean lin- in its broader paradigmatic context name- guistics, Marxism (particularly Althusser's ly: Poststructuralism and Social theory of ideology), feminism, the "new constructionism. "Poststructuralism and French feminists" (Kristeva, Cixous, Iri- Social constructionism developed within garay)" (Gavey, 1998:460, Ward, the POSTMODERN line of thought" (Kvale, 1997:80-100). 1992:8). Certain central Structuralist ideas In search of a definition for or a descrip- need to be highlighted before Poststruc- tion of Poststructuralism many problems turalism can be introduced.
9 Are encountered. It is a virtually impossi- 98/Education Vol. 123 No. 1. ble process to define Poststructuralism. At One such a system operating through lan- the center of post-structuralism is a resis- guage described in Poststructuralist thought tance to any form of definition or is discourse (Monk, Winslade, Crocket, identification "..presumably because such Epston 1996:30; Hare-Mustin, 1994:19;. practices represent an attempt to pin down Hollway, 1983:231). discourse can have an essence which does not exist" (Gavey, many different meanings according to 1998:119). where it is used and by whom. "A discourse According to Foucault (1988:18)".. the is an abstract public sphere of words and premises of post-structuralism disallow images" (Ward, 1997:129).
10 Any denominative, unified, or 'proper def- A discourse is not just an abstract con- inition of itself. Broadly it involves a cept; it exists in concrete social situations critique of metaphysics: of the concepts of and has very real effects" (Terre Blanche causality. of identity, of the subject, of & Durrheim, 2000:48-52). In the discus- power, knowledge and of truth". sion that follows discourse analysis will Poststructuralist premises become clear- be introduced as a Poststructuralist and er when its ideas on language and meaning Social Constructionist " APPROACH " to edu- in relation to Structuralist ideas are dis- cational research . cussed. There is a difference between Social constructionism Structuralist and Poststructuralist's views Social constructionism studies how peo- on language and meaning.