Institutional discourse

Institutional discourse (eng. institutional discourse, fr. discour institutionnel, ger. institutioneller Diskurs) – communication within the established social institutions of the society [Dijk, van, 2008]. In some linguistic workss the notion of “institutional discourse” is understood as “the discourse produced in social institutions that presuppose communication as a constituent part of their organization” [Шейгал, 2000, с. 43]. It is “a specialized clichéd type of communication among people, who might not know each other in person, but should communicate in accordance with the regulations of this community” [Карасик, 2002, c. 292].

Institutional discourse, being opposed to everyday, informal communication, in which the interlocutors play certain roles, is viewed as a multi-facet phenomenon and is investigated from various perspectives.

Two major approaches to the analysis of institutional discourse are usually distinguished: descriptive and critical.

The descriptive approach covers the following aspects: 1) observation of the language behaviour within the certain social institution, as follows: linguistic means, rhetorical methods and language strategies; 2) analysis of the semantic aspect of the institutional communication. In Russian linguistics the following kinds of institutional discourse are considered: political, religious, pedagogical, medical, didactic, scientific, diplomatic discourse, discourse of marketing, etc. (E. Sheigal, V. Karasik, L. Beilinson, S. Mishlanova, V. Zhura, M. Oleshkov, L. Maslova, T. Volkova, I. Guseinova, etc.).

The critical approach is aimed at critical analysis of social inequality, expressed in both language and discourse [Wodak, Chilton, 2005]. The problem of the language the means of power relations and social control is discussed in the works by R. Wodak, Т. van Dijk, Т. van Leuuwen and others). R. Wodak summarizes the main ideas of the approach writes that “institutions – are status-oriented organizations: <…> belonging to a certain social stratum, gender, age, education and so on they determine each other and become specifically interconnected, thus being instrumental in institutional perception and attitude” [Wodak 1997, p. 23−24].

Some researchers view institutional discourse as a set of typical communicative events that have a prescriptive nature and take place in a certain special and temporal set of reference. It has a predetermined topic of conversation, highly conventionalized linguistic features and follow a certain range of communicative patterns of behaviour with the interlocutors playing certain situational roles.

Further reading

Водак Р. Язык. Дискурс. Политика. / Пер. с англ. и нем. – Волгоград: Перемена, 1997. – 139 с.

Карасик В. И. Языковой круг: личность, концепты, дискурс. – Волгоград: Перемена, 2002. – 477 с.

Шейгал Е. И. Семиотика политического дискурса. – М., Волгоград: Перемена, 2000. – 368 с.

Dijk T.A., van. Discourse and Power. – New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. – 308 p.

A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis: Theory, Methodology and Interdisciplinary. Wodak, R. and Chilton, P (eds). – Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2005. – 321 p.

Maria Tomskaya

Translated by Vinokurova Daria