Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dominant and Insurgent Discourses: Part 1

What is produced by a critical rhetoric is a new set of discourses that replace previous ones that used to seem natural or common sense. Cox explains that “…a discourse is an overall pattern of speaking, writing, or other symbolic action that results from multiple sources. It functions to ‘circulate a coherent set of meanings about an important topic’ (Fiske 1987, p. 14). Such meanings often influence our understanding of how the world works or should work…[w]hen a discourse gains a broad or taken-for-granted status in a culture (for example, ‘growth is good for the economy”) or when its meanings help to legitimize certain policies or practices, it can be said to be a dominant discourse. Often these discourses are invisible, in the sense that they express naturalized or taken-for-granted assumptions and values about how the world is or should be organized” (Cox, 2006, p. 58)

Cox discusses the Dominant Social Paradigm which “affirms society’s ‘belief in abundance and progress, our devotion to growth and prosperity, our faith in science and technology, and our commitment to a laissez-faire economy, limited governance planning and private property rights…”(Cox, 2006, p.58). This paradigm encompasses most dominant discourse in our society. Anything that challenges these beliefs falls into the category of an insurgent discourse.

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