The book How to Do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit, first published in 2011 and reprinted as a second edition in 2014, provides a helpful overview of the methods and instruments used in discourse analysis. The author of the book is James Paul Gee, who is famous for his work on discourse analysis. The present paper is a report on the book, which will seek to provide a summary of the main ideas and a reflection.
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This book mainly deals with the subject of discourse analysis, which is a method used to analyze language. The author explains that there are many different approaches to discourse analysis and the use of a particular approach depends a lot on the purpose of the analysis (Gee 1). The framework proposed by the author is both detailed and broad, as it assists in analyzing the structure of language while also placing it in its social, cultural, and political contexts (Gee 1). Thus, the present book provides readers with a comprehensive set of techniques to be used in discourse analysis.
The structure of the book reminds that of a textbook, with four separate units, an introduction, and a conclusion. Unit 1 relates language to cultural context and explains how the acquisition of language affects our understanding of it. In this section, the author provides three tools that are designed to make it easier for readers to analyze their native language: the Fill In Tool, the Making Strange Tool, and the Frame Problem Tool. In Unit 2, the author focuses on the analysis of grammatical structures, showing how they are used to create meaning. The two tools that are introduced in this chapter are the Doing and Not Just Saying Tool and the Why This Way and Not That Way Tool. Unit 3 serves to expand on the topic by examining how placing language in context allows building significance, activities, identities, relationships, politics, connections, and knowledge. This section offers eight different tools, each focusing on a single component of meaning. Lastly, Unit 4 considers six theoretical tools, each built on theories used in a particular academic field, such as sociolinguistics, cognitive psychology, psychological anthropology, and history. Gee states that using a combination of the proposed tools allows creating a truly multi-faceted analysis of language (156). The final section of the book is a conclusion, which summarizes the key ideas and explains some important considerations with regards to discourse analysis, such as its validity.
As a whole, the book offers a practical framework for discourse analysis and will be beneficial for students and scholars alike. The author provides background information about each tool to explain its importance and application, but the focus of the work is on practice rather than on theory. Each unit is divided into a set of sections with examples and practice assignments, which enables readers to learn the author’s method quickly. I believe that the book contains a lot of valuable information that can be easily understood due to its layout. The ideas presented in the book can help to structure and enhance one’s approach to discourse analysis, thus contributing to the study of language. It is also important to note that the framework provided by the author is rather flexible and can be applied to discourse analysis in various disciplines.
Gee, James Paul. How to Do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2014.