Bakhtin, CDA, D&G

Fairclough recommends that a critical discourse analysis consider the type or genre of discourse that is being analyzed. Rather than simply relegating the Berk & Associates report to a media or governmental type, it will be more illuminating to first explore the origin of the Bakhtinian concept of genre. Much like Fairclough, Mikhail Bakhtin argues that language is indeed closely related to the complexities of social life: for him, it “is unitary only as an abstract grammatical system of normative forms, taken in isolation from the concrete, ideological conceptualizations that fill it, and in isolation from the uninterrupted process of historical becoming that is a characteristic of all living language.”[1] Resonating with D&G’s ontology – which is at least in part inspired by Bakhtin’s work[2] – he understands language as both “stratified and heteroglot,” with the primary stratification being accomplished by what he calls genre: a form that knits together features of language, specific intentions, and an overarching system of accents.[3] While it is illuminating to note that the word heteroglossia is a translation of Bakhtin’s concept of raznorechie, which “refers to the coexistence of a multiplicity of various struggling language forms…associated with certain ideological points of view,”[4] and therefore expresses a notion similar to immanence, the central point here is that genre stratifies; it organizes. As we move through the structural analysis of the discourse, we will not only use the ready-made genres that Fairclough invokes, but will also pay special attention to the elements that Bakhtin understands as constituting genre.


[1] “Discourse in the Novel,” 288

[2] In A Thousand Plateaus…anywhere else? Does Guattari reference it at all in The Machinic Unconscious? See Evans article.

[3] ibid

[4] Politics and the Theory of Language in USSR 1917-1938: The Birth of Social Linguistics, 73.

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One Response to Bakhtin, CDA, D&G

  1. Pingback: Bakhtin II | My Desiring-Machines

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