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Episode 484             Episode 486
Episode 485

Essex School of discourse analysis
Sat, 2018-Sep-01 00:29 UTC
Length - 5:35

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Welcome to random Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of a random Wikipedia page every day.

The random article for Saturday, 1 September 2018 is Essex School of discourse analysis.

The Essex School constitutes a variety of discourse analysis, one that combines theoretical sophistication – mainly due to its reliance on the post-structuralist and psychoanalytic traditions and, in particular, on the work of Lacan, Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, etc. – with analytical precision, since it focuses predominantly on an in-depth analysis of political discourses in late modernity.

Founding figures of this approach are Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, two post-Marxist political theorists, who, disillusioned with economic reductionism, tried, since the 1970s, to reinterpret Gramsci’s theory of hegemony to highlight the role of meaning and of processes of interpellation and identification in the creation of political identities and in the articulation and sedimentation of political discourses and hegemonic orders. The paradigmatic formulation of this innovative orientation and of its various conceptual innovations can be found in Laclau’s and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, first published in 1985, as well as in many subsequent contributions of the two thinkers.The approach developed by Laclau and Mouffe and the theoretical traditions influencing their thought – mainly Saussurean linguistics, Lacanian psychoanalysis and deconstruction – provided the teaching backbone of the graduate programme in Ideology and Discourse Analysis Laclau founded at the University of Essex in the early 1980s. Already from its inception, the programme attracted many MA and PhD students from around the globe, especially from Argentina, Mexico, Greece, Denmark, Spain, the US and the UK. Many PhD theses further developing Laclau’s and Mouffe’s discourse theory and/or applying it in the empirical analysis of concrete empirical cases have since been completed. Graduates of the programme are now employed by universities in many parts of the world, while the programme itself is run by three members of staff at Essex: Aletta Norval, David Howarth and Jason Glynos, all ex-PhD students of Laclau. Academics associated with the programme have also set up a World Network in Ideology and Discourse Analysis, which provides a web-based channel of communication between its 203 registered members and has also organized the Inaugural World Conference in Ideology and Discourse Analysis, which took place from 8-10 September 2008 at Roskilde University, Denmark, with Ernesto Laclau as keynote speaker.Apart from setting up a distinct graduate programme, now in its third decade, three other factors are indicative of the increasing international recognition and the gradual institutionalization of the research tradition initiated by Laclau and Mouffe: (i) The activities of the Centre for Theoretical Studies in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, also founded by Laclau at the University of Essex (and now co-directed by Norval and Howarth), which functioned as the intellectual hub of the Ideology and Discourse Analysis group; (ii) The publication, from 2000 onwards, of a series of monographs, edited collections and textbooks by members of the group, some of them based on the doctoral research conducted within the programme; (iii) The inclusion of the orientation developed by Laclau and Mouffe and their students as a distinct research direction within the field of discourse analysis in textbooks and introductions to the field published by independent scholars.As a result of all these developments, the distinct identity of the group and of its research output gradually triggered a process of naming. From 2003 onwards, when critics wanted to refer to the work of members of the group, they used the phrase ‘the Essex School’, which is now widely used by both members of the group and ‘outsiders’.The Essex School does not limit the research direction of its ‘members’, each one of whom develops her or his own orientation independently; it offers, however, a loose framework within which a multitude of theoretical and political interventions can flourish, enriching the original vision of Laclau and Mouffe.

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