Corpus-based methodology and (critical) discourse studies: Context, content, computation

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The presentation will discuss practices employed in two recent research projects in order to address two common interrelated criticisms of corpus approaches to critical discourse studies, namely that they … a. do not (sufficiently) take account of the relevant context; b. merely examine groups of words (e.g. keywords, collocates) – or, at best, concordances of a few words around the node. The examples come from work carried out within the following two projects: • Discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press, 1996-2006. • The representation of Islam and Muslims in the UK press, 1998-2009. Both projects employed large corpora comprising all British national newspapers, and had a strong diachronic element (Baker et al., 2008; Baker et al., forthcoming a, b; Gabrielatos, 2007; Gabrielatos & Baker, 2008; Gabrielatos et al., 2012). The central aim of the presentation is to demonstrate that these criticisms stem from outdated and restricted conceptions of corpus research. That is, irrespective of whether they may be justified in individual cases, these criticisms do not concern the potential of corpus-based approaches. More specifically, the main points to be illustrated are: • Corpus researchers have no less access to sources of relevant contextual information than (critical) discourse analysts. • A corpus-based contextual analysis; that is, a preliminary quantitative analysis of the diachronic frequency development of corpus texts, reveals patterns which not only pinpoint areas that can be usefully examined in detail, but, more importantly, uncovers helpful contextual elements, which can inform the interpretation of results. • Corpus analysis need not stop at the examination of short concordance lines, but can involve the close analysis of longer stretches of text, or whole texts if necessary – while at the same time retaining the ability to quantify the results.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventCorpus-assisted Discourse Studies International Conference - University of Bologna, Italy
    Duration: 13 Sept 201214 Sept 2012


    ConferenceCorpus-assisted Discourse Studies International Conference


    • corpus approaches
    • (critical) discourse studies
    • diachronic studies
    • contextual analysis


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