Routledge

Chapter Extensions: Part I

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Discussion Questions

1. Gee raises the question of “the frame problem” in approaching analysis. Because meaning is only made in context, ideally analyses can take into account wider and wider contexts until any further widening doesn’t significantly alter the interpretations. How do each of these chapters take up the question of framing (both as a problem and as a tool)? What kinds of decisions are made with respect to framing the data? And what are the consequences of these decisions with respect to the rigor and trustworthiness of the analyses in each chapter? 
 
2. Gee writes that the point of discourse analysis is “to explicate the workings of identity and social practices in society” (Chapter 2, this volume). Two of these chapters take up the concept of figured worlds to do most of the explicating, using different representations of data to do so. How convincing are the respective claims made by analyses reliant on this particular concept/tool? 
 
3. In the conclusion to his chapter in this volume, Gee writes that “situated meanings, social languages, figured worlds, and Discourses move us from the ground of specific uses of language in specific contexts (situated meanings) up to the world of identities and institutions in time and space (Discourses) through varieties of language (social languages) and people’s taken-for-granted theories of the world (figured worlds). This progression is, in my view, the point of discourse (or, better d/Discourse) analysis” (Chapter 2, this volume). In other words, Gee views these tools/concepts as a bottom-up progression—from situated meanings, through social languages, through figured worlds, to Discourses. How might this model go both ways? In what ways do each of these chapters show that identities and institutions (Discourses) can press back down through figured worlds and social languages to shape all the different ways individual people use language in context (situated meanings)? 

4. What do each of these chapters offer in the way of new practices in educational contexts? What sorts of open space are made available through critical discourse analysis? 
 
5. Two of the chapters rely on interviews, and render transcripts for analysis. One is grounded in textual and pictorial data. How are Gee’s theories and tools for doing discourse analysis suited to each of these kinds of data? How do each of the authors interact with Gee’s theories and tools?
 
6. Do you agree that all discourse analysis is inherently “political” and “critical,” as Gee suggests? Is it possible to think about how Discourse affects the access to and distribution of social goods in ways that bracket the concept of power? If so, how?

7. Narratives—whether written or oral—provide both structure and thematic content to figured worlds. Revisit each chapter to consider the following question: How do the authors capture multi-voiced discourses and the “work” people do in negotiating competing discourses?

8. Everyone in schools can draw upon many different identities, can “be” many kinds of highly specialized kinds of persons depending on contexts and social purpose. With the interpretations of these chapters in mind, what kinds of activities and lessons can be designed that help students and teachers construct, bespeak, and enact the Discourses most beneficial to themselves and those they care about, as well as better “see” and “hear” the Discourses that oppress. 

9. LĂłpez-Bonilla demonstrates how the youth’s narratives capture the different figured worlds that they have to negotiate. She represents the narratives in Spanish and also the English translation. She discusses issues associated with translation and discourse analysis. What is clear across each of the chapters is that culture is communicated through narratives—spoken or written. How else might have multicultural ways of interacting, representing, and being have been represented?

 

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