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Comparison Between Discourse Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis From Linguistics View

This paper discusses the comparative of Discourse Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis. It is considered important because the term has been used by public and in many kinds of activities. Such as, in a scientific field.  Discourse Analysis had been placed as one of the subjects at few universities. Therefore, this paper is expected to be able to give clear understanding and comprehension about Discourse Analysis. Besides, it is also explained about the comparative between Discourse Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis from a different side, and the theories are applied in the analysis.  

Keywords: Discourse Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis

Tulisan ini membahas tentang perbandingan analisis wacana dan analisis wacana kritis. Hal ini dianggap penting, karena penggunaan istilah ini sudah sangat umum digunakan oleh seluruh lapisan masyarakat dan dalam berbagai macam aktivitas. Demikian pula, dari segi keilmuan, analisis wacana telah ditempatkan sebagai salah satu mata kuliah di beberapa perguruan tinggi. Oleh karena itu, tulisan ini diharapkan mampu memberikan pemahaman yang jelas mengenai analisis wacana. Selain itu, dipaparkan pula perbandingan analisis wacana dan analisis wacana kritis, serta teori-teori yang digunakan dalam analisis tersebut. 

Kata kunci: Analisi wacana, Analisis Wacana Kritis

A. Introduction

When we listen to speakers in a seminar, training, or classroom discussions, the term “Discourse” is often used by people who are involved in it. If we read various books, open the internet, Discourse also often comes across. This indicates that the term has become a consumption of different levels of life. The term “Discourse” has become part of people’s life. Many people use it with various meanings. Anyone using it with the proper meaning. Instead, parts of them are using it inappropriately.

In Linguistics, the theory of discourse is increasingly felt his presence. It feels incomplete when an exposure of linguistic discourse theory does not include it. In fact, Indonesian Language Grammar book puts the raw chapter on discourse independently run parallel to other areas of grammar, such as sentence and said, a breakthrough in the writing of grammar as long as this hasn’t been done. Grammar books are compiled by Indonesian Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana (STA), Cuora Again, Keraf Gorys, and others never put the topic of discourse in their discussion. As the blade’s analysis, the theory of discourse is already widely used in Social studies and Education. In Social studies, for example, the design of the “Discourse Analysis” and “Critical Discourse Analysis” is widely used by researchers to analyze social practices that exist around us. Then, in Educational research, or particular research into Language Teaching, “Discourse Analysis” has also been used by a lot of researchers to address issues of Teaching. Theory of discourse and discourse analysis is already no longer being-linguistic fields, but already it belongs to other areas.

As the early discussion, let us begin to recognize the various uses of the word “Discourse”. First, “Discourse” opposite or juxtaposed with “Language”. The opposition is widely used in the field of hermeneutics. This opposition is comparable to Saussure’s famous opposition, namely the Langue and Parole. The term “Language” belongs to Langue, whereas the term “Discourse” is with Parole. Thus, the discourse has properly discussed the process of making meaning suitable with context. 

Second, the term “Discourse” juxtaposed with the term “Text”. Geoffrey Leech & Michael Short, i.e., uses both terms as follows:

Discourse is linguistic communication seen as a transaction between speaker and hearer, as an interpersonal activity whose form is determined by its social purpose. Text is linguistic communication (either spoken or written) seen simply as a message coded in its auditory or visual medium.
(Mills, Sarah: 1997, p. 4)

In fact, the two terms are often used in an overlap. The question is, do the text and discourse refer to maujud (entity) the same? In science, they often exchanged freely between the term “discourse” and “text”. Some were treated equally, and others were different. In Germany, Language covers those terms (Discourse and Text). (de Beaugrande, R.A. & Dressler, W.U: 1986, p. 12).

By contrast, in the United Kingdom uses of both distinguished. The text refers to written, while the discourse refers to spoken language. There are concerns that the text implies the non-interactive monologs, while the discourse implies interactive discourse. The text could be long and short, while the discourse implies a certain length. The text is a purely linguistic phenomenon, while the discourse is the phenomenon of language use (text) and context.

Third, the term “discourse” distinguished with “a sentence or clause.” This definition is only used in Linguistics, descriptive Linguistics, included in Indonesia. (Michael Stubbs, M: 1983, p.10).  It stated as follows:

Discourse is “Organization of Language on  top of the sentence or clause; in other words the linguistic units larger than a sentence or clause, such as Exchange-the exchange of conversation or written texts” 
(Michael Stubbs, M: 1983, p.10)

It is also found in the view of David Crystal (1991, p. 96) as follows:

The discourse was “a series of ongoing process language (especially oral) wider than the sentence” Both have the same view about the stratification of the discourse that is above a sentence or clause.
David Crystal (1991, p. 96)

The two Statements above have a different, Stubbs explained the scope of discourse can be either oral or in writing, and Crystal is more emphasized on the oral realm of discourse.

Fourth, the term “Discourse” which refers to the supreme unit, full, lingual and or intact.” This refers to the concept of Kridalaksana and Samsuri  as following. “The discourse was “complete language units; in the grammatical hierarchy of grammatical unit is the highest or largest”. This discourse is realized in the form of whole articles (novel, books, a series encyclopedia and others), paragraphs, sentences, or words that carry the full mandate (Kridalaksana: 1984, p. 208).

Fifth, the term “Discourse”  is differentiated by “ideology”. This was done by many linguists are critical. Roger Fowler stated as follows:

Discourse is speech or writing seen from the point of view of the beliefs, values, and categories which it embodies; these beliefs etc. constitute a way of looking at the world, an organization or representation of experience—“ideology” in the neutral non-pejorative sense. Different modes of discourse encode different representations of experience; and the source of these representations is the communicative context within which the discourse is embedded.
(Mills, Sara: 1997, p. 6)

Fowler emphasized the concept of “point of view” of things implied also in view of the Jorgensen & Phillips (2002)  that Discourse is “a particular way to discuss and understand this world, it’s important to make a difference between the two terms above (Discourse Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis). On the next discussion, it will be discussed more those terms based on  some views of Linguists.

B. Discussions

1. Discourse Analysis

The term “Discourse” then is utter a variety of experts interpretation. Clark in his article Discourse in Production published in the Handbook of Psycholinguistics describes “Discourse” as the use of language as a whole exceeded the level of sounds, words, and sentences. These opinions were expressed by Kridalaksana with related to the discourse as the  complete language units in the grammatical hierarchy of grammatical unit.  The  complete language units could be a sequence of sentences. It is inter-related and capable of connecting, existing proposition into a unified.  These whole definitions are the definition of a conventionally that put discourse as a neutral and independent construction value (Moeliono 2013).

A little different with these opinions, Fowler et., al, Fairclough, van Dijk, van Leeuweun and Wodak defines Critical Discourse by placing the discourse as a construction which is not neutral and has not value-free. The discourse is a manifestation of social action which produced a goal to be achieved by the speaker.

Discourse Analysis was originally initiated by Zellig Harris in 1952 with his article called Discourse Analysis. The linguist on the era preoccupied is just reviewing the language from the level of the sentence. Harris writes about more extensive analysis towards a language that does not stop at the level of the internal linguistic (sentence), but it further examines the external landscape surrounding the internal landscape, i.e. the link between text with the context. 

The Discourse Analysis is just starting a lot done by experts in the 1960s Brown and Yule also revealed that the Discourse Analysis means to do an analysis of the language used. van Dijk in his News Discourse explained that analysis is the process of discourse analysis of language use and language goal in obtaining a description more explicitly and systematically regarding what is delivered. Cook added that in the analysis of discourse is not enough to just analyze the linguistic elements, but also take into account the context of the discourse that builds up.

2. Critical Discourse Analysis

The presence of the context that is associated with the linguistic factor was not quite satisfactory for the process of discourse analysis. The influence of the critical paradigm presents breakthrough called Critical Discourse Analysis. The experts of Discourse Analysis extended discourse with the term more broadly. A group of teachers from the University of East Anglia, i.e. Fowler, Hodge and Kress, Trew, conducts critical linguistic approaches. They interpret the discourse as a social practice which has a specific purpose. Discourse is not immediately present, but it comes with a specific purpose that wishes to deliver the audience. The text is never viewed as something of a non-neutral value. Critical Discourse Analysis sees language as an action. The main duty of Critical Discourse Analysis is to elaborate relationship of power, dominance, and inequality produced in discourse.

A critical discourse analysis of language seems as a critical factor as the embodiment of particular power. A text produced particular ideology. The development of critical discourse analysis creates various theories and approach which also used in the research field. Fowler, Hodge and Kress, Trew (1979) applied the theory of functional grammar to perform critical discourse analysis. The theory stated that the language has three main functions, namely;  communicating all process of occasion in the world (The Ideational Function); expressing the attitude of the speaker toward the proposition that is already compiled and express the relationships between speakers and listeners (interpersonal function); and serving the expression coherensive and adequately via text (textual function). Fowler, Hodge and Kress Trew (Fairclough, N: 1995, p. 10), applying, the analysis of the 3 functions of language to dissecting the ideology in discourse. The analysis was conducted only in text, namely;  analyzing the elements of the vocabulary used in the text; nominalization; and choice sentences are used.

Van den Week (Van Leeuwen: 2008, pp. 28-29) in his book entitled Discourse and Practice used the exclusion and inclusion approach to analyzing how the actor in discourse is been displayed, whether the actor is shown as a whole, only partially or even eliminated. Exclusion or removal expenses is an actor of a discourse. The process of exclusion is realized through three strategies, namely passives (removal of the actor in the discourse of the most commonly performed using a passive phrase to describe an event), nominalization (the process of change the verb into a noun) and replacement of subordinate clauses. The opposite of exclusion, inclusion is concerned with how the actors inserted or presented in discourse. Inclusion process is realized through differentiation strategies, i.e. six-diverifications (presenting the actors or other events as a comparison), objective-abstraction, nomination, nomination-categorization, identification, determination of-undetermination and assimilation-individualization. This type of approach allows to review more in detail about the position of the actors in the discourse, but to see how the formation of discourse as a whole is still not detailed because van Leeuwen is only conducting his analysis on the text.

In line with the van Leeuweun, Mills on his paper entitled Critical Discourse Analysis, it is conducted by focusing on how the actors displayed in the discourse. What separates the two is the focus of the studies they do, i.e. Mills is famous for his feminism discourse studies. He wanted to examine how media bias in showing women are so marginal on it. Critical Discourse Analysis model of Mills attempted to link the social actor’s position and the position was an event to reveal the presence of marginalization. The position of the subject and object in that event are examined in depth by him to see which actors have a higher position and the power to determine the discourse that will be thrown at the public. The actor who plays the role of the subject is assumed as an actor who has a chance to define and perform Imaging against him. On the other hand, the actor who became the object of a party is defined and described his presence by others. An analysis of the position of the subject-object contains a certain ideology charge of Mills. The excess of critical discourse approach was to take into account the position of the reader in the text. The news is not solely as a result of production from senior news and readers may not necessarily be placed as a target. Mills considers negotiating as a result of news between the news and the preacher to his readers.

In contrast to van Leeuwen Monday and Mills, Critical Discourse Analysis approach of van Dijk, known as its approach to social cognition, include an analysis of the cognition of discourse in the process of formation of discourse maker and linguistic analyses. It is involved in more depth to dismantle relationships of power and domination that was produced in the discourse. Van Dijk, classifying, elements of the discourse into three, namely, text, social cognition and social context. The text is divided into level 3, i.e. macro-structures, microstructure, and superstructure. Macrostructure is the outer frame structure discourse with regard to schematic superstructure discourse. Microstructure includes the linguistic elements that are used in discourse. Van Dijk set 4 linguistic elements are examined in the microstructure, i.e. the element syntax, semantic difference, stylistic and rhetorical. Social cognition is present to bridge between the text and the context. Social cognition deals with mental processes and cognition maker discourse in the production process of discourse. The existence of social cognition analysis submitted to the makers of discourse will further clarify how the discourse produced and context as what affected him. 

An analysis of the social context is done through the study of intertextuality, i.e. linking a discourse with the discourse of the related existing before and after. The link between social cognition, text and social context are reflecting the tendency of a discourse. The advantages of the process analysis of the discourse made by van Dijk is how it connects between the text and the context of the social cognition through the manufacture of the discourse.

Similar statements by van Dijk, a critical discourse analysis of Fairclough in his book Critical Discourse Analysis used intermediaries in linking between text and context, i.e. through the practice of discourse. Critical discourse analysis approach to three-dimensional model classify that discourse consists of text, discourse, and socio-culture practice. The dimensions of the text simultaneously have three functions, namely the representation, relationships, and identity. The function of representation is closely related to how social reality is displayed in text form. The practice of discourse according to Fairclough is staging with regard how to produce a discourse, a discourse in the form of mass media relates to how the media (News author) produce a text. This relates to the author’s own personal as a newsmaker, working relationship with fellow workers of other media, place of media institutions the author of refuge, how coverage news, news writing until it becomes news in the media. Sociocultural practice is divided into three levels, namely the level of situational (situation builders discourse), institutional (institutional influence) and social (social influence society). 

The difference between van Dijk and Fairclough lies in the analysis of the text. Although Fairclough has already done with his analysis of the linguistic elements that are more comprehensively, but those are still not detailed because he did not clearly classify linguistic elements. In the analysis of Discourse either Critical or not, those are basically having the same point from language side or language used. There are three differences how language is seen in the Discourse Analysis (whether critical or not). 

The first view, represented by the empirical Positivism, they see language as a bridge between man and object outside themselves. Human experiences deemed to be directly expressed through the use of a language without any constraints or distortions, so far as he expressed by wearing the logical statements, syntax (the grammar of the sentence), and has a relationship with empirical experience. One feature of this view is the separation between thought and reality. In connection with the Discourse Analysis, people don’t need to know the meanings of the subject or the underlying value from a statement, because the important thing is whether the statement was made correctly according to the syntactic and semantic rules (Grammarly Correct). 

The second view referred to as Constructivism. This view rejects the view of Positivism-empirical separating subject and object (thought and reality). In the view of Constructivism, language is not just seen as a tool to understand the mere objective reality and separated from the subject as the messenger, but instead, consider the subject as a central factor in the activities of discourse and social relations. The subject has the capability to control certain purposes in any discourse, and languages are regulated and switched on by statements that have aims. Each assertion is essential to mean, i.e. the creation of actions, the actions of selfformation as well as the disclosure of the identity of the speaker.

While the third view, referred to as a Critical View. This view wants to proofread a Constructivism view of less sensitive on the production process and the meaning of reproduction going on historically as well as institutional (institutional in nature). The view of Constructivism is also still not analyze factors inherent power relations (closely related) in any discourse, which in turn was instrumental in shaping the kinds of a specific subject along with his behavior. In view of the Critical emphasis on constellations the power that occur in the process of production and reproduction of the meaning. The individual is not considered a neutral subject who can interpret freely in accordance with his thoughts because of it deeply connected and influenced by the social power that exist in society. The language in these Critical understood as a representation of a role in shaping a particular subject, the themes of a particular discourse, as well as the strategies. Therefore, the analysis of the discourse in this view is used to unload the power that exists in every process of language: constraints of what is allowed into the discourse, the perspective should be used, what topics are discussed; and see the language has always been involved in power relations, especially in the formation of the subject, and various actions contained in the representation of the society.

Based on some of the views above, we can classify where Critical Discourse Analysis is not Critical. The Discourse Analysis that used third-category view (Critical View) is called the Critical Discourse Analysis. While taking the first and second view categories called Discourse Analysis.

In Critical Discourse Analysis, language is analyzed not by mere linguistic aspect, but also connects with the context and as a social practice of shaping them. The context here means that language is used for its intended purpose and certain practices, including the practice of power. Describing discourse as social practice lead to dialectical relations between discursive events (distorted) with certain situations, institutions, and social structures that formed it. The practice of discourse can also display the effects of ideology, for example, he can produce and reproduce the power relations that does not draw between social classes, men and women, the majority and minority groups through which differences represented in social position are shown. Through Discourse, for example, state that racist, sexist, or inequality of social life are seen as a common sense, fairness or natural and indeed like that fact.

A Critical Discourse Analysis of language seen as important factors, example, how language is used to look at inequality came in society appear, even we can investigate how existing social groups fought each other and filed their each version.

How to understand these cases, the author will present the five (5) characteristics of Critical Discourse Analysis at next sub-topic.

3. Critical Discourse Analysis of Characteristics

Below is characterizes Critical Discourse Analysis according to Fairclough (Eriyanto: 2009, p. 8-13).

  1. Discourse understood as an action. It means that discourse as a form of associate interaction, for example, people who speak or write are not construed as he wrote or spoke. In such an understanding, there are some consequences of how discourse should be viewed. First, the discourse is seen as something that aimed to influence, persuade, argue, support, react, and others. Someone talking or writing has a specific meaning, both large and small. Second, the discourse is understood something that expressed a conscious, controlled, not something outside the control of consciousness.
  2. Critical Discourse Analysis considering the context of discourse, such as backgrounds, situations, events, and conditions. In addition, Critical Discourse Analysis also examined the context of communications: “who is communicating with whom and why; in this type of situation and what audiences; through what medium; How is the difference type of communication development; and associated to each “party”. Please note that not all contexts are included in the analysis, only the relevant over production and interpretation of texts that are included in the analysis. There is some context that is important because it affects the production of discourse. First, participants of discourse, who is producing the discourse, gender, age, education, social class, ethnicity, religion, in many respects relevant in describing the discourse. Second, certain social settings, such as place, time, position the speaker and the listener or the physical environment that constitutes a useful context for understanding a discourse.
  3. One important aspect to be able to understand the text is put in a certain Historical discourse. For example, we analyze some leaflet made by students who opposed Mr. President/Suharto regime. Understanding of the discourse from this text will only be obtained if we could provide the historical context in which the text was created, how the situation of political space, the atmosphere at the time, and why the language style used.  
  4. A Critical Discourse Analysis is also considering elements of the throne (power) in analyzing discourse. Here, every discourse that comes in the form of text, conversation, or whatever, is not seen as something natural, reasonable and neutral but it is a form of power combat. The concept of power is one of the key relationships between discourse and public. As a teacher to his students. This implies that Critical Discourse Analysis views do not limit themselves to the details of the text or discourse structure but also connects with the strength and condition of social, economic, political, and cultural. On the concept of power in relation to discourse produces namely “Control” or Foucault term “Disciplined Body” both mentally/psychic and repressive.
  5. Ideology is the central concept in this analysis, due to text, conversation, and another form of ideology or practice. In classical Ideology theories, stated that the ideology was built by the dominant group aimed to reproduce and legitimize their domination. One of the main strategy is to create awareness to the mob that dominance was accepted in taken for granted, through what is called by Gramsci Hegemony and create a false consciousness. Ideology makes a member of a group will act in the same situation, be able to connect their problems, and contributing in the form of solidarity and cohesion within the group. In this perspective the ideology has some important implications: first, Ideology is inherently social, not personal or individual; Second, the ideology of social nature, although he used internally among members of a group or community. Therefore, the ideology not only provided the function coherence and cohesion but also it formed the identity of the group and difference among groups. In view of this kind of discourse, then not understood as something neutral and takes place naturally, as in any discourse necessarily contained ideology to predominate and jockeying for influence.

From the characteristics of Critical Discourse Analysis above, we may examine the discourse produced by the elites who created many of the social inequality, implies the false consciousness of the community through disinformation, and the ecstasy of communication they made.

4. Critical Discourse Analysis Approach

Some approaches that are commonly used in Critical Discourse Analysis are:

  • Critical Linguistics Approach 

A critical linguistic approach is emphasizing its analysis on language in relation to ideology. In this case, the ideology has been analyzed from the angle of word choice and sentence structure are used, in other words, the aspect of ideology observed the choice of the language and the structure of the grammar used.

  • French Approach 

The French approach assumes that language is a domain of dominant fight. Through the meanings that are created in the discourse, the various groups of mutual attempts to infuse his belief and understanding to other groups. Through words and meanings, they created a battle opinion, including the power to determine and establish the position of dominance on the other. In this approach, the language and ideology agree on language use and language materialistic on ideology, both, words used and their meaning. This is the approach used by Sara Mills with the perspective his feminism.

  • Social Cognition Approach 

This approach was developed by Teun Van Dijk that focuses on the issue of ethnicity, racism, and refugees. This approach is referred to as social cognition, because of an important element of cognition factor in the production of discourse. Therefore, according to this approach, the analysis of discourse can be used to find out the position of the social groups, both as the ruler/dominant and marginal groups.

  • Socio-Cultural Change Approach

This approach focuses on how the discourse and social change. The discourse here is seen as a social practice. Thus, there is a dialectical relationship between the discursive practices with identity and social relations. Discourse is also inherent in the situation, institution, and certain social classes. Approach social change looked as discourse practices of power. According to this approach, the discourse has three effects in social change, namely (a) gives participation in the construction of social identity and position of the subject, (b) contribute to the construction of social relationships, (c) contributed in the construction of the system of knowledge and belief.

  • Historical Discourse Approach 

According to this approach, the analysis of discourse should pay attention to historical context. The discourse here is called Wodak because according to historical analysis of discourse should include the historical context how the discourse a group or community is described (Wodak R. and Meyer, M. 2001). In the critical paradigm, the media are seen as the dominant group that has a power. Because the media is controlled by the dominant group, a reality that has actually been distorted and false.

C. Conclusions

  1. The discourse is a unit of language that most concerned to sentence and a grammatical unit that is highest in the hierarchy of grammatical. While the analysis of discourse is the study of the structure of a message in a communication or an examination regarding various functions (pragmatics).
  2. There are three perspectives on discourse, for such empirical Positivism-View, the Constructivism-View, and Critical-View.
  3. Critical Discourse Analysis is an effort or parsing process to give an explanation of a text (social reality) and being reviewed by a person or a group of dominant tendency who has a specific purpose. Critical Discourse Analysis has some characteristics, those are historical, context, action, power, and ideology.
  4. Critical Discourse Analysis Approaches according to Eriyanto consists of five parts, namely Critical Linguistics Approach, French Approach, Social Cognition Approach, Socio-Cultural Change Approach, and Historical Discourse Approach.


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Alvons Habibie
IAIN Sultan Amai Gorontalo
Faculty of Education and Teacher Training

[email protected]




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