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1.0 Background to the Study
Corruption is a natural phenomenon; hence it has become a household name in modern society. In fact, the existence of ‘corruption’ dates back to the fourth century BC (Bardhan, npn). Noonan (235) says …corruption, it seems, is everywhere a “world of evil and disease”. In his own opinion, Klitgaar (21) posits that corruption not only distorts social, political and economic systems,but also illuminates crucial problems around organizations and their managements. It is a concept that has dominated discussions in social science disciplines especially political science and sociology, (e.g. Heidenheimer and Johnston, 2001; Nye, 1967; Warren, 2004; Kaufmann, 1997; Tanzi, 1998; Jain, 2001; Khondker, 2006; Bassey et al, 2013; Rose-Ackerman, 1999; Nuijten and Anders, 2007). There is widespread agreement that corruption represents one of the most pressing issues facing business and society today (Riyan, in Breit1).
Broadly speaking, some scholars view ‘corruption’ as a dysfunctional trait of individuals, organizations and societies. By illuminating key struggles, conflicts and contradictions embedded in different understandings of corruption, they advocate a view of corruption as a socially constructed phenomenon. (e.g. Chibnall and Sounders 89; Grannovetter, npn). More specifically, the discussions accentuate an acute aspect largely ignored by corruption scholars; namely: the role of language and discourse in efforts to make sense of and give sense to corruption. They enable explorations into the discursive processes through which specific notions of corruption are articulated, reproduced and transformed (Breit 1-2).
This dissertation however, is hinged on the analysis of the media reportage of corruption proceedings between 2015 and 2016 in Nigeria. The issue of corruption is not a myth to a
country like Nigeria, especially now that it has been rated among the most corrupt countries in the World. Nigeria is the number 136th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International, 2016). The fight against corruption and media reportage span through successive administrations in Nigeria. It started with the first military coup in 1966 and since then, it has been part of the successive administrations including the present Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Based on this, the role the media play in their reportage of court proceedings especially between the period of 2015-2016 cannot be undermined; hence, the need for assessment. This, therefore, motivates this study. In addition, the role of the media is to serve as ‘watchdogs’ of the society and thus is expected to uncover and report problematic events especially in the recent time where Nigerians hear more of high profiled cases like the corrupt cases involving the Senate president, the former National Security Adviser, former Governors etcetera. The study will achieve this using Critical Discourse Analysis approach.
Critical Discourse Analysis (henceforth CDA) is a discourse methodology that studies language in relation to social issues and practices. Discourses are prevailing ways of knowing, valuing and experiencing the world. Discourses are extensively used in everyday contexts for building power and knowledge, for regulation and normalization, for the progression of new knowledge and power relations and for hegemony.
One may suppose that “discourse” is a more extensive term than “text.” According to Fairclough, “I shall use the term discourse to refer to the whole process of social interaction of which a text is just a part.” (24) Given the power of written and spoken texts (from either print or electronic media), Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is instrumental for describing, interpreting and critiquing social life reflected in texts .Van Dijk (19) adds that CDA is related to studying and analyzing written texts and spoken words to disclose the discursive sources of power, dominance, inequality and bias and how these sources are initiated, maintained, reproduced, and transformed within specific social, economic, political and historical contexts . This, therefore, serves as the framework upon which this study is built for ease of understanding the papers Ideological Discursive Formation (IDF).
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Various researches on media reportage have been conducted by linguists especially in the field of stylistics or literary linguistics, only a few have investigated Critical Discourse Analysis as a tool at the time of this research.This study will, therefore, examine the Nigerian media reportage on corruption related proceedings using ‘Ideology,’ ‘power,’ and ‘context’ which are integral parts of CDA to unravel the underline ‘Ideological Discursive Formation’ in their texts.
1.2 Aim and Objectives of the Study
This study aims at establishing the underlinedideology (IDF) and power play in the reportage of corruption related proceedings by the Nigerian Media. This aim will be further established in the following objectives:
i. That each Nigerian media has its own IDF which drives its thought and shapes its reportage.
ii. Whether or not corruption related proceedings have been appropriately reported in spite of different political affiliations of the news editors or even the proprietor of the news establishment.
iii. That the reporters have some linguistic devices or vocabularies that dominate their text for peculiar reason or reasons.
iv. That every news oncorruption reportage carries along with it issues of power play between social actors in the discourse.
1.3 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study cannot be over emphasized. It is an advancement of the existing studies on corruption reports in Nigeria especially from a discourse analysis point of view. The study will unearth the underlined ideological formations that guide media reportage on corruption. It will also expose the power exhibited through the use of language, as well as reportage of the media on corruption cases. At the end of the study, therefore, students of language and researchers would find it resourceful in their future endeavours.
1.4 Research Questions
At the end of the study, the following questions would have been answered:
i. What is Critical Discourse Analysis?
ii. What IDF controls the thought and shapes the text of Nigerian media reportage?
iii. Has reportage of corruption related proceedings been affected as a result of the political affiliation of either the editors or proprietors of the media establishment?
iv. What power has been exhibited through the media reportage?
v. What identity is being exposed in the media report on corruption?
vi. What linguistic devices or vocabularies dominate the text and for what reason(s)?
This research work is content analysis based on secondary data. The data for analysis are collected newspapers and television reportages, while a review of literature was done from source materials which include text books, hand books, articles from journals etcetera that are relevant to this research. The methodology adopted for this study will be further elaborated inchapter three under the research design.
1.6 Scope and Limitation
This study is a Critical Discourse Analysis of media reportage on corruption related issues. It covers five media outfits; that is two (2) print media (newspaper) and three (3) broadcast media (television). The reports are randomly selected between 2015 and 2018. In this work, the researcher has adopted ‘Ideology’ and ‘Power’ which are integral parts of Critical Discourse Analysis to establish the Ideological Discursive Formation (IDF) of each of the selected media outfits and how such has been projected in their reportage. The selected print media are: ‘The Nation’ newspaper and ‘The Sun’ newspaper. The Broadcast media include: Channels Television, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Africa Independent Television (AIT). The choice of these media establishments is purposive for their wide coverage in Nigeria and beyond especially the Broadcast media so selected.
The limitation to this study is solely the researcher’s inability to explore all the available print and broadcast media in their respective languages of information dissemination and even the social media, which today has more coverage, for want of time and need for specificity. Also, the work is limited to Critical Discourse Analysis with emphasis on Ideological Discursive Formation (IDF). The limitation is because this study cannot handle all the areas of study in Discourse Analysis.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter discusses some conceptual frame works and the theoretical frame work for the study. Issues such as Critical Discourse Analysis, trends in Media Discourse, Corruption Reportage in the Nigerian media, Context, Identity and Role in Discourse, Language Use in Discourse, Ideological Formations and so on are examined in line with the focus of this research.
2.1 Critical Discourse Analysis: An Overview
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a contemporary approach to the study of language and discourses in social institutions. It focuses on the way and manner language exercises its power in the society. Critical Discourse Analysis began from the assumption that systematic asymmetries of power and resources between speakers and listeners, readers and writers can be linked to their unequal access to linguistic and social resources. It hinges on the notion that language use is a social practice which does not function in isolation but in a set of cultural, social and psychological frameworks. CDA accepts this social context and studies its connections with textual structures. It also takes the social context into account and explores the links between textual structures and their functional interaction within the society.
The terms, Critical Linguistics (CL) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) are often used interchangeably. However, the latter is often preferred and used to denote the former theory previously identified as Critical Linguistics. CDA is a relatively new approach in discourse studies, whose emergence could be traced to a small symposium of discourse scholars in Amsterdam in 1990 and headed by Van Dijk. He views CDA as;
a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social
power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. With such dissident research, critical discourse analysts take explicit position and thus want to understand, expose and ultimately resist social inequality. (23)
When two interlocutors engage in a conversation, there is often an implicit ideology which explicitly manifests through the exercise of social power and dominance. This is made more manifest, especially, when the conversation is made between a dominant social actor and a dominated social actor; the former being described by Wodak and Meyer as “powerful groups” (3) while the latter is described as the “dominated groups” (Van Dijk 96).
When a text or talk is subjected to interrogation with the aim of discovering hidden meanings and value structures, discourse becomes ‘critical.’ This analysis is carried out when the hearer or reader uses all linguistic features and cues available to him in the ‘said’ to generate meanings from the ‘unsaid’ in a manner that exposes power and abuse of power, dominance, inequality and invested institutional ideologies in the discourse of a powerful group, then discourse studies is said to be in the domain of Critical Discourse Analysis. Critical Discourse Analysis is, therefore, “a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context” (Van Dijk 1).
Wodak and Meyer believe that every discourse is structured by dominance and the “dominant structures are legitimated by the ideologies of powerful groups” (3). CDA is a mixture of a linguistic and social theory that focuses on discourse within social practice. The knowledge of the grammar, phonology and the structural patterns of a text or talk is no doubt, very important. It has become very necessary, however, to look beyond these primary linguistic features of the language and dissect every utterance to see if there is more to know, that the structure of the language ordinarily would not offer by merely probing its grammaticality. This is why Ike- Nwafor is of the view that language is no longer just for “reflecting reality, it is central for creating reality” (2).
Critical Discourse Analysis is relatively a new approach to the study of language. Before now, scholars were interested in the structural patterns and forms of language. For many decades, the preoccupation of many linguists has been the study of grammar and other aspects of language. Recent researches by linguists have clearly shown a revolutionary shift of attention from language form to language functions (Fairclough 1992; Leeuwen 2008; Van Dijk 1977). This has opened a new approach to the study of language and provoked a scholarly investigation into the use of language in social context and how the opaque ideology embedded in a discourse can be unveiled.
According to Meyer (15), “Critical Discourse Analysis is an investigative approach that is essentially concerned with unearthing the opaque meaning that underlies the discourse of social actors in a manner that exposes the display of power and abuse of power, dominance, and inequality among them.” In other words, it is an exercise that endeavours to make explicit, power relationships which are frequently hidden in text and talk. Critical Discourse Analysis is also concerned with “unveiling the implicit and explicit oppression, discrimination and power that are manifest in discourse- both spoken and written.”(Dellinger n.p.)
Critical Discourse Analysis, as a discipline, came up as a “reaction against the dominant formal paradigms of the 1960s and 1970s” (Van Dijk 352). This reaction was particularly necessary because earlier works by many scholars were not ‘critical’ enough but focused much attention on the structural patterns of language with less concern for the use and the misuse of such language to achieve certain aims from certain people in a certain social setting. Critical Discourse Analysis can be said to be the brainchild of the ideas put together by scholars at the Frankfurt School before the World War II (Van Dijk 352). These ideas brought to the fore, subsequent developments in linguistic studies around 1970s and 1980s. As earlier noted, it was initially called Critical Linguistics (CL) but later metamorphosed to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) around 1990s (Onifade 65). Wodak and Meyer gave a brief historical account of the advent of CDA thus:
CDA as a network of scholars emerged in the early 1990s, following a small symposium in Amsterdam, in January 1991. By chance and through the support of the University of Amsterdam, Teun Van Dijk, Norman Fairclough, Gunther Kress, Theo Van Leeuwen and Ruth Wodak spent two days together, and had the wonderful opportunity to discuss theories and methods of discourse analysis and specifically CDA. The meeting made it possible for everyone to confront each other with the very distinct and different approaches, which still mark the different approaches today (4).
Critical Discourse Analysis is particularly interested in revealing the implicit ideology inherent in words of an elite group and how this manifests in the exercise of power and social hegemony. It shows the relationships between discourse and society. According to Fowler (25), “texts must be probed in order to uncover hidden meaning and value structure inherent in them.” The CDAresearcher, therefore, needs some skills and methods to be used to decipher the “hidden ideological meaning behind the written or oral word” (McGregor 7).
The relationship between critical discourse analysis and discourse may be likened to a tree and its branches because CDA is an approach to discourse study. Scholars have, no doubt, used the term ‘Discourse’ to analyse social relations severally. According to Weedon, “discourse is a “structuring principle of society that is enacted in social institutions and taken up in modes of thought and individual subjectivity” (41). Weedon further states that “discourses are manifestations of relations of power and political interests that constitute individuals as subjects who reproduce and/or transform discourse through social practices” (41). In other words, it is a broad term with various definitions which “integrates a whole palette of meanings” (Titscher 42 in Bayram 26), covering a large area from linguistics, through sociology, philosophy and other disciplines. The inter-disciplinary nature of discourse prompted Fairclough to hold the view that discourse is “the whole process of interaction of which a text is just a part” (24). In line with this position, it can be deduced that discourse is every social relation, social practices, discursive practices and non-discursive practices such as facial expression, body language, painting, (semiotics) and other non-linguistic relations.
In addition, discourse is a form of language use. It is viewed as communicative events, which encompass certain beliefs, ideologies, identities, politics, and the like (Chilton and Schauffner 19). Communication is obviously something beyond simply transferring a message from the sender to the receiver; discourse analysts frequently speak of interpretative work (Wodak and Cilla,npn). Sometimes, textualized or verbalized statements of people aim more than conveying what they say at the surface level directly and explicitly. The most important issue is the social information that is usually conveyed inexplicitly. Fitch (npn) opines that discourse does not have a rigid framework. It is often considered as a general methodology, theory or merely critique tied to social constructionism or social power and oppression. Some discourse analysts are linguists or applied linguists and as such, they try to analyze texts (textual and verbal) in terms of their grammatical structures, others draw mainly on conversational analysis (CA) and speech act theory. Other discourse analysts may have no specific procedure of rigorous analysis. Instead, they search for patterns of language use that may be linked to social or power structure and ideological colourings. This is the branch of discourse, which is called Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and which combines linguistic analysis, ideological criticism and cognitive psychology. CDA has, therefore, become one of the most widely used methods in discourse analysis (DA) in modern linguistic study. According to Fairclough and Wodak in Wodak and Meyer (6), CDA sees “language as social practice” and considers the “context of language use” to be crucial. Wodak and Meyer further explained that CDA sees discourse as language use in speech and writing as a form of ‘social practice’. They describe discourse as social practice which implies a dialectical relationship between a particular discursive event and the situation(s), institution(s) and social structure(s), which frames it; the discursive event is shaped by them, but it also shapes them. That is, discourse is socially constitutive as well as socially conditioned. It constitutes situations, objects of knowledge, and the social identities of and relationships between people and groups of people. It is constitutive both in the sense that it helps to sustain and reproduce the social status quo, and in the sense that it contributes to transforming it. Since discourse is socially consequential, it gives rise to important issues of power. Discursive practices may have major ideological effects; that is, they can help produce and reproduce unequal power relations between (for instance) social classes, women and men, and ethnic/cultural majorities and minorities through the ways in which they represent things and position people (Fairclough and Wodak 258). This, therefore, implies that CDA understands discourses as relatively stable uses of language serving the organization and structuring of social life…(Wodak npn). To Van Dijk (96), Critical Discourse Analysis is an interdisciplinary approach to text and talk which aims to investigate criticallysocial inequality as it is expressed, signalled, constituted and legitimized. Fowler (4) opines that, “CDA challenges common sense by pointing out that something could have been represented some other way, with a very different significance”. Influenced by the functional approach to language (Halliday, 1985) and the social theory of Western Marxism (Gramsci, 1971; Foucault, 1972), CDA takes as its basis the idea that there is an imbalance in the access members of a society have to social, and specifically linguistic, resources; that these resources are controlled by social institutions; and that restricting access to the resources both produces and maintains patterns of social inequality. As such, CDA commits itself to the exposure of these patterns, and wherever possible, it does so from a perspective that is consistent with the best interests of dominated groups (van Dijk, 96-97).
Certain concepts are crucial to effective critical discourse analysis; they are institution, power and Ideology. Institution may be said to be the background that shapes the speaker’s speech(es) as every individual involved in one social event or the other belongs to a particular social background. In other words, Thornborrow (5) describes the above as a form of interaction in which the relationship between a participant’s current institutional role (that is, interviewer, caller to a phone in programme or school teacher) and their current discursive role (for example, questioner, answerer or opinion giver) emerges as a local phenomenon which shapes the organisation and trajectory of the talk. This further explains that an interaction in which we can observe that a person’s local role as ‘questioner’ is affected by their wider role as ‘police officer’ can safely be labelled as ‘institutional discourse’.
Language is viewed by many as being an integral part of the work of social organizations, it being,the principal means through which lay persons pursue various practical goals and the central medium through which the daily working activities are conducted (Drew & Heritage 3). A recurrent theme in studies of institutional discourse has been a focus on how the unequal distribution of power among the participants, typical of such settings, is manifested (Newbury & Johnsonnpn).
Power relation is described as “the relational capacity that enables a social actor to influence, asymmetrically, the decisions of other social actor(s) in ways that favour the empowered actor’s will, interests, and values” (Castells 10). Power, according to Fairclough, has “to do with powerful participants controlling and constraining the contribution of non- powerful participants”(38). It is the degree ofinfluence an individual or a group wields over other individuals or groups within a society.
Power is, no doubt, one of the most integral ingredients of one’s use of language.
Together with institution, it shapes one’s thought (Ideology) and in turn, one’s language. Power is a concept that has been approached from many perspectives, with each producing diverse insights and meanings. The works of some theorists have shown that power takes different forms and that there are bases and resources that permit the exercise of power (Wartenberg 1990; Wrong 1997). Power determines social institutions and imposes order and discipline in specific ways. Power is inherent in discourse as a tool of controlling the mind of others. According to Brockeriede, power is ‘the capacity to exert interpersonal influence’ (313).
Thornborrow says “power is a set of resources and actions which are available to speakers and which can be used more or less successfully depending on who the speakers are and what kind of speech situation they are in” (8). Fairclough (1-2) conceptualizes power both in terms of asymmetries between participants in discourse events, and in terms of unequal capacity to control how texts are produced, distributed and consumed in particular sociocultural contexts. Wodak, being influenced by Foucault (1977), Bourdieu (1991) and van Dijk (1985), interpreted power as “discursive control [including] who has access to the various types of discourse, who can and cannot talk to whom, in which situations, and about what. The more powerful the people are, the larger their verbal possibilities in discourse become” (66). This implies that power pushes the speaker in his or her use of language and the extent of one’s power determines his or her use of language.
To exert power, sometimes, may involve the use of threats to control the actions of others. Threat has been described as socially construed linguistic acts of power relations between two parties (Waltz 15; Grieco 4). The two parties involved in threat are “the threatener and the threatened” (Gales 2). For there to be a case of threat, the ‘threatener’ must wield an enormous social power, either legitimately or illegitimately. This implies that the language of threat is not just uttered by a speaker without the influence of power.
Ideology, like institution and power, is a major concept in the use of language of a
speaker. Infact, Fairclough opines that, it is the most critical element in discourse studies because the other two (institution and power) are embedded in it. He defines ideology as “a system of beliefs that creates a particular representation of the world from the perspective of a particular interest” (46). However, the connection between the representation and the underlying interest it serves is not a transparent relationship, even though it appears to be natural or real. In this way, ideology, as a function of power, serves to naturalize and reify the social order by representing dominant interests as universal; denying or obscuring contradictions; and controlling actions through active consent (Munby 301). In other words, ideological assumptions are (re)produced through discourse and serve to create a particular representation of ‘reality’ that is a ‘taken-for-granted’ norm and body of knowledge. In this way, ideology has material effects that create and sustain the power relations through the constitution of subjects and objects that populate the social world (Fairclough 46).
One cannot talk about ideology in discourse without recourse to the concept of Ideological Discursive Formations (IDFs).Fairclough labels this notion as IDFs by presenting a social institution as a sort of ideological or speech community. He considers social institution as ideological institution. Fairclough believes that behaviour and discourse are ideologically motivated. He views Critical Discourse Analysis as ideological analysis. According to Fairclough;
I view social institutions as containing diverse ‘ideological-discursive formations’ (IDFs) associated with different groups within the institution. There is usually one IDF which is clearly dominant… Institutional subjects are constructed, in accordance with the norms of an IDF, in subject positions whose ideological underpinnings they may be unaware of. A characteristic of a dominant IDF is the capacity to ‘naturalize’ ideologies, i.e. to win acceptance for them as non-ideological ‘common sense’… To ‘denaturalize’ them is the objective of a
discourse analysis which adopts ‘critical’ goals (27).
These IDFs frame participants’ roles in every social institution and that makes it “generally possible to identify a ‘dominant’ IDF and one or more ‘dominated’ IDFs” (Fairclough 14). Fairclough explains that contentions or struggles between forces within social institutions come about as a result of the penchant for maintaining a dominant IDF by the dominating group, as well as suppressing an existing IDF by the dominated group with a view tore placing it. This explains why critical analysts dig deep to ask the fundamental questions: who produces a text? To whom is a text addressed? How and why is a text produced? A perfect answer to each of the questions above would reveal the source of power and also show the reason for the ideologically laden language of a text.
This study infers that institution, power and ideology are three major ingredients that shape the speakers thought and this is reflected in his language. A speaker’s language carries more meanings than its representation in words. These kinds of meanings are referred to as covert or hidden meanings; they are embedded in the words used and expected to be revealed through an effective critical discourse analysis. In line with this therefore, this research is to unveil the ideological formation through power and institution in the reportage of corrupt practices in Buhari’s administration by some selected Nigerian print and electronic media.
2.2 Discourse and Social Context
Discourse is what we get when language is used in communication between people. It simply involves every aspect of social relation and practices. Gee (131) says “A Discourse is a socially accepted association among ways of using language, other symbolic expressions, and ‘artifacts’, of thinking, feeling, believing, valuing, and acting that can be used to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or ‘social network’, or to signal (that one is playing) a socially meaningful ‘role’”. It is also understood as naturally occurring language or language in use (Stubbs, 1983; Cook, 1989). Dakowska (81) identifies unity of communicative intention as a vital element in defining the term discourse. Discourse therefore, is any instance of language use for communication by realhuman beings in a real-life setting in either spoken or written form. It may consist of a single word or utterance or a series of words or utterances. Discourse refers to information which can only be interpreted by reference to context.
Linguists, discourse analysts, and psychologists generally agree that contextcrucially influences the structures and processing of text and talk. According to Dash (22), the term ‘context’ refers to an immediate linguistic or cultural environment (rarely detached or isolated) in which a particular word occurs. Van Dijk argues that it is not the social situation itself that influences the structures of text and talk, but rather the definition of the relevant properties of the communicative situation by the discourse participants. The preoccupation of discourse analysts is to investigate how people, through the variability of language, represent versions of reality within discursive contexts and its implications for knowledge production. Discourse analysts contend that beliefs, attitudes, attributions and perceptions of people are not stable and enduring across contexts; rather, they are constructed in accordance with historical and socio-cultural contexts of discourse and interpersonal interaction. To fully understand the perceptions of people about a given psychological phenomenon, it is essential to understand how, within a given environment, people strategically draw on available discursive devices to negotiate and represent their reality of the phenomenon. Discourses of research participants and how they position a given psychological phenomenon may speak volumes of their socio-cultural background. The beliefs and attitude of people about a psychological phenomenon may not be enduring but may be a function of their background information such as values, culture or religion. This suggests that, in the contextual analysis of language and the process of meaning making, the analysts ought to look for patterns within the discursive milieu.
In addition, we are able to create and negotiate representations of the world and construct meanings in social discourse by first and foremost, examining the cultural background of discourses (principle of intertextuality) of those involved in a discourse in which they have a stake. People’s perceptions about a phenomenon are not a stable pre-existing internal state that they describe but vary and may be a function of the purpose, circumstance and context of discourse. It can accordingly be argued that the truth about a given phenomenon is not given by individual participants in a social discourse but through the lenses of their given society orcontext. This is because participants in a social interaction are both producers and products of culture within their social environment (social context). It should be noted that when people state a belief or express an opinion, they are taking part in a purposeful conversation in which they all have a stake. In other words, “to make sense of what people say; we need to take into account the social context within which they speak” (Willig npn).
According to Stiles (20), “indeed, acknowledging the relevance of social context of discourse produces a more interpretive understanding of ‘replication,’ an essential concept of scientific inquiry”. From the foregoing, it is observed that there cannot be any correct interpretation of any kind of discourse without consideration of the social context of the participants; hence, this is relevant to the current study. The context consideration of the media reports will enable the study to do a critical analysis.
2.3 Context, Identity and Role in Discourse
Contextis the domain of reference of a given text, the context, the genre of speech event in progress, the discourse constructed upstream, the socio-cultural environment assumed by the text, and the specific utterance situation at hand is subject to a continuous process of construction and revision as the discourse unfolds. It is by invoking an appropriate context that the addressee or reader may create discourse on the basis of the connected sequence of textual cues that is text.
The discourse partners exploit this trace by simultaneously invoking an appropriate context in order to construct discourse. The context relevant for a given act of utterance is a composite of the surrounding co-text, the domain of discourse at issue, the genre of speech event in progress, the situation of utterance, the discourse already constructed upstream and, more generally, the socio-cultural environment which the text presupposes including mutual personal knowledge on the part of the speech participants as well as more general encyclopedic and cultural knowledge. The various aspects of this context are in constant development: the discourse derived via the text both depends on them and at the same time changes them as this is constructed on line (Roberts 2004; Unger 2006; Connolly 2007).
The concept of identity according to Djité (6) “is the everyday word for people’s sense of who they are.” Identity is “people’s concepts of who they are, of what sort of people they are, and how they relate to others” (Hogg and Abrams 2).According to Deng, “Identity describes the way individuals and groups relate with themselves and are related with by others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language, and culture” (1). It also refers to “the ways in which individuals and collectivities are distinguished in their social relations with other individuals and collectivities” (Jenkins 4).
To Wendt (397), “Identities are relatively stable, role-specific understandings and expectations about self.” Baggioni and Kasbarian (npn) begin by distinguishing two types of identity, namely the personal and the collective. They name ‘identification’ as the process linking the former to the latter. We see that in the majority of discourse analytical studies, this collective identity is privileged, mainly under the name of ‘social identity’. Social identity is then, as in Duszak’s definition, “that part of an individual’s self-concept that came from knowledge of his/her membership in a social group, together with emotional significance attached to it” (2).
The element of membership to a group is also salient in Kroskrity’s definition. According to him, “Identity is defined as the linguistic construction of membership in one or more social groups or categories.” (111) When rephrasing Djité’s basic definition, we could, thus state that identity is in many cases interpreted as ‘people’s sense of what, who or where they belong to’. This ‘sense’ turns into a more active concept when identity is seen as the product of an act of self-definition. By a process of individuation, people define themselves as belonging to certain entities (Castells npn). This act in its turn leads to the generation of a notion of ‘otherness’, or as Tajfel and Forgas put it, “We are what we are because they are not what we are” (124). It is this self-definition together with the social aspect of identity which Geschiere and Meyer’s (1998) critique on the notion of identity was based. In referring to Rouse (npn), the authors state that the sudden popularity of the notion of identity in social sciences is a mere reflection of the specific interests of Western research, with its capitalist discourse emphasising private ownership, thus suggesting that every individual has to ‘own’ an identity. By the two aspects of identity described above, it notes however that identity is not simply an interesting theoretical notion imposed upon people. First, the general interest in social identity simply matches the observation of a universal human need to belong to or be a member of a group. And secondly, the aspect of self-definition makes clear that identity is very often an instrument of agency and a source of meaning for the actors themselves (Castells npn). Identity is thus the concept used in social science to describe a certain sense of belonging, reflecting people’s need to define themselves and others. Role is one of the classes of identities as observed by Fearon (16).Role refers to labels applied to people who are expected or obligated to perform some set of actions, behaviors, routines, or functions in particular situations. For example, taxi driver, toll collector, mother, father, president, professor, businessman, and student. In this study therefore, these concepts (identity and role) are going to be an instrument to an effective analysis. The application of identity and role knowledge would help to understand why the reporters have chosen to present their report the way they did; since the case of the reporter is like the piper who is being dictated to play a specified tune by the owner.
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