Browsing by Subject "Discourse analysis"

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  • Von Schöneman, Katja (2020)
    This article explores the diachronic development of Islamic interpretive discourse on the Qur'anic passage khalaqakum min nafsin waHidatin wa-khalaqa minha zawjaha, present in the first verse of Surat al-Nisa' and conventionally understood as the creation of the primeval couple, Adam and Eve. The analyses, performed within a theoretical framework of feminist discourse analysis, focus on ten medieval Sunni commentaries (tafasir) from the late third/ninth to the ninth/fifteenth centuries. The study reveals that the concept of nafs waHida, single soul, was interpreted as the first man, Adam, and the mate created from this soul, zawj, as Eve, the latter being created from the former's rib in all the exegetic accounts examined. These elaborated exegetic suppositions on human creation were strengthened throughout the classical period of tafsir. Interpretive information both accumulated and transformed in Islamic interpretive tradition through three discursive stages, characterised as normativisation, consolidation, and expanding the concept.
  • Lönnroth-Olin, Marja (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    The discourses of Young Muslim men in the West have tended to focus on marginalisation, deviancy and threat. Often the voices of the targets of these stigmatizing discourses are not heard and thus, they do not have the possibility to re-define or resist the dominant discourses. This Thesis investigates how young Muslim men living in Finland, surrounded by discourses of threat and marginalisation, construct Muslimness and how they position themselves and others in that construction. The data was collected by semi-structured thematic group interviews, conducted in small groups or dyads, with 12 young men aged from 18-29 years. The data was analysed using a Critical Discursive Psychological approach, focusing on how the young men are constructed and positioned by the larger societal discourses and how they respond to these constructions, as well as on how they construct their identities in the immediate interaction situation. The analysis focused on three concepts; interpretative repertoires, ideological dilemmas and subject positions, which all shed a light on how identities are constructed and negotiated in interaction in relation to the sociocultural context. In the data 3 interpretative repertoires, 3 ideological dilemmas and 5 subject positions were distinguished. The results show that the participants negotiate their identities in relation to various actors, as well as in relation to relevant identity categories such as gender and generation. In their talk, it can be distinguished that they sometimes accept and repeat, yet sometimes question and re-define how Muslimness is constructed in the societal discourses.
  • Hummelstedt-Djedou, Ida; Zilliacus, Harriet; Holm, Gunilla (2018)
    The necessity to include multicultural education policies and practices in schools and teacher education has been widely recognized both in Finland and internationally. However, terms such as 'multiculturalism' and 'multicultural education' have contested and vague meanings in educational discourse. This paper investigates discourses on multicultural education from critical multicultural education and Postcolonial theoretical perspectives. The focus is focus on the teacher education policies of all the eight primary teacher education programmes in Finland. Discourse theory analysis revealed six diverging discourses within a framework of conservative, liberal and critical multicultural education. The results show that it should not be taken for granted that policies including multicultural education contribute to social justice in education and teacher education. Consequently, policy-makers need to question the rhetoric regarding multiculturalism and to focus on how inequality is reproduced and upheld in discourses in teacher education and schools, and how this can be challenged.
  • Hummelstedt-Djedou, Ida; Holm, Gunilla; Sahlström, Fritjof; Zilliacus, Harriet (2021)
    The aim of this study was to explore the role of social justice in multicultural education taught in teacher education. The study investigated discourses on multicultural education among Finnish teacher educa-tors, and the subject positions constructed in them. Discourse theory analysis revealed six discourses on multicultural education, ranging from conservative to liberal and critical, with liberal discourses having the most articulations. Although Finnish teacher education has taken steps towards social justice, the results also highlight racialisation and the subject position of the immigrant Other as themes that need to be challenged to prevent the reproduction of inequalities in teacher education. (c) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
  • Takala, Tuomo; Lehtinen, Ari; Hujala, Teppo; Tanskanen, Minna; Brockhaus, Maria; Tikkanen, Jukka; Toppinen, Anne (2021)
    Conflicting interests make forests an inevitably political issue. We examine the political roles that Finnish forest owners take as decision-makers and citizens. Inspired by post-political theories of democracy, we examine forest owners’ aim of open, constructive treatment of the controversies between views, ideologies and actors. Our data consisted of a survey (n = 452) informed by an interview (n = 24). We applied a mixed-method critical discourse analysis. The forest owners produced four alternative discourses of forest-related controversies, the major controversy being that between productivism and environmentalism. The ‘involved discourse’ positioned itself in between these two ideologies, although closer to the former. From this position, it expressed an eagerness to discuss any issue with anyone. The ‘pragmatist discourse’ criticised ideological environmentalism but did not perceive its own productivist ideology. The ‘receding discourse’ perceived its own environmentalist ideology and criticised the productivist one but was not eager to discuss forest policy issues. The ‘uninvolved discourse’ excluded controversies, and thus the political dimension, from a forest owner's life. The involved discourse was closest to the constructed ideal of respectful, agonist, re-politicisation of forest issues. Recognition of one's own ideology while being comfortably close to the hegemonic view of the forest seemed to be the main factor behind this orientation. Yet, political views that challenged the status quo and demanded a transformative change towards sustainability were pushed into a silent antagonism. A major forest policy challenge is how to bring forest owners with these transformative ideas – the proponents of ecological citizenship – into the sphere of agonist re-politicisation.
  • Kuosmanen, Sonja (2021)
    The promotion of human rights has faced challenges in recent years in the United States and elsewhere. In this study, human rights discourses are examined in the context of strategic foreign policy rhetoric by the United States. The routine of foreign policy statements is meant to create audiences receptive to U.S. foreign policy aims, but also reveals underlying ideologies and assumptions. The analysis examines U.S. State Department Human Rights Country Reports between 2000 and 2019. The results show that the assumed ideal model of human rights is heavily based on U.S. political tradition. The performance of other countries is evaluated against the 'exceptionalist' U.S. model without consideration of different cultural or societal contexts. Linguistic choices are made to highlight the agency of authorities and events, which can be seen as a strategy of diplomatic face-saving. In some cases, countries are evaluated on an unequal basis based on political expediency.
  • Adair, Nathan (2007)
    The scale and pervasiveness of mass-mediated communication in modem life is so great that media influence permeates all layers of politics, society and culture. 'The news media exert their influence ... by determining in part which issues people use in making their overall evaluations' (Miller and Krosnick 1997: 260). Within this context, news outlets play an exceptionally important role in transforming and replicating dominant political, social and cultural beliefs, as well as setting policy agendas. One manner in which news media shape perceptions of key events is through the act of framing. Erving Goffman (1979: 10-15) maintained that framing is a matter of everyday circumstance, whereby an individual's subjective involvement in events or everyday life, operates on the basis of previous experience. In news media, news frames serve as journalistic tools through which journalists recounting a story in a limited amount of space place an event within its broader context (Norris et al. 2003: 10-11). Framing in media reports, may be understood as the employment of symbols, words and historical references by journalists. These provide associational conceptualizations whereby any event is understood in relation to a series of other events, which are expected to be familiar to the wider audience. Framing, or more importantly, the selection of one frame over another, provides evidence of potentially ideational undercurrents which are present in wider society. Additionally, frames can impact broader social values due to the content: texts, images and structures; of the news reports which are produced within news organizations, and subsequently published to a wider, often nationwide, audience. The resulting content of any news report is frequently the result of subconscious omissions, emphases and inclusions of information. The omissions, emphases and inclusions of any news report are not necessarily attributable to any explicit ideational actions by media outlets or reporters; rather factors such as politics, history, culture, economics, ideology and society are expected to play a role in subconsciously or cognitively influencing th way that the news media frames issues and events.
  • Lindström, Jan; Henricson, Sofie; Huhtamäki, Martina (2022)
    In this study we present an interactional linguistic analysis of pseudoclefts in Swedish based on audio and video recordings of everyday and institutional conversations, resulting in a collection of 100 instances. There is variation in the degree to which pseudo-cleft constructions are syntactically integrated: from fully integrated biclausal constructions (cleft clause + copula verb + main clause) to non-copular variants and further to variants in which the cleft-clause is followed by an indeterminate stretch of discourse. The construction’s functional properties have to do with projecting actions and generating discourse events, e.g. showing that the initial part has an important turn-projecting function by disclosing the speaker’s stance towards the issue at hand. Pseudo-cleft constructions are recurrently employed for marking discourse shifts, e.g. from a positive to a negative stance. Prosodic organization brings unity to the overall construction of clefts and visual cues can be used to convey significant processing activity by the speaker during the production of a pseudocleft. Our data from institutional interaction shows that pseudoclefts are heavily used by the expert rather than lay participant, thus contributing to the creation of institutional roles and social order.
  • Pietarinen, Niina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Bioeconomy is expected to play a key role in achieving resource-efficient, sustainable societies globally. With its vast forest resources, Finland aims at being a global forerunner of forest-based bioeconomy, which is ought to result in increased welfare of Finnish citizens, while being ecologically sustainable. Given these expectations, it is important to understand the relationship between Finnish forestry and sustainability. The aim of this master’s thesis is to provide an analysis on how the concept of sustainability is framed and translated in Finnish forest policies. Two research questions were drawn: 1. How is sustainability framed and understood in the Finnish forest policies? and 2. How the “Spirit of Rio” is transferred into the existing legislation? In this context, “the Spirit of Rio”, originating from the Rio Conference held in 1992, means the ambition to take care of environmental issues with a bottom-up approach with the participation of groups that are most affected by the decisions. Discourse analysis was chosen as approach as it can reveal meanings within texts. The analysis followed Backstränd and Lövbrand (2006) and investigated specific elements of environmental discourses (ecological modernization, green governmentality and critical civic environmentalism) in the analysis of selected national forest policy documents. ATLAS.ti software was used in analyzing and processing the research data. A code book was developed in order to help in structuring the analysis and the material was coded in four different levels, starting from the broadest topics and proceeding to less visible details. The research results indicate, that although the language used in the policies refers widely to sustainability, the consideration of ecological aspects of sustainability is weak and rhetoric whereas economic values have a dominant role, and are defined and translated towards action and practices. The Spirit of Rio was addressed in the analyzed policies in the form of co-operation of stakeholders and a participative writing process. However, the importance noticeably decreased over time. The research findings demonstrate, that in the analyzed policies the “brand” of sustainability is to some extent used as a marketing tool and hence risks to legitimize an industry friendly agenda with bioeconomy acting as an opportunity to commercialize natural resources. This thesis aims to provide relevant reflections to policymakers and the forest sector on whether and to which extent sustainability has been included in the Finnish forest policies. Understanding sustainability framings and dominant discourses in the past and present forest policy documents will help to inform ongoing and future forest policy revisions. Revealing the dominant discourse increases transparency and can start a process towards problem solving.
  • Kuosmanen, Sonja (2021)
    Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the conflict later known as the Gulf War became a focus of US media and the target of a campaign to gain public support for military action against Iraq. Building on previous research, this study shows that terms referring to specific actors changed in three major US newspapers during fall 1990 in ways that suggest the newspapers’ practices of objective reporting were affected. Centered on Presidents George Bush and Saddam Hussein as key players, the use of different terms of reference in press reports changed systematically to highlight Bush in a prestigious role as the US leader, while Hussein was delegitimized as a dangerous individual. Kuwait and its leaders were sidelined. Reporters prioritized officials associated with military and intelligence agencies at times of increased tensions. These changes implicitly supported the interests of the Bush administration and discourses favorable to US military action.
  • Yrjä, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    After the September 11 attacks in 2001 the President of the United States, George W. Bush, declared a global war on terrorism – and a war to rescue the Afghan women from their terrorist men. Feminist scholars and activists worldwide criticized the Bush government for using feminist rhetoric to justify the war. However, the development of this discourse throughout the tiring years of warfare and the co-optation of the U.S. rhetoric by other coalition partner countries have been overlooked in the research. This thesis examines the gendered narratives and the women’s rights rhetoric of U.S. and German state officials in 2001−2002 and 2007−2008. The theoretical framework of this thesis is located on the diverse and interdisciplinary field of feminist security- and international relations studies. The research questions are: How was the Afghan war justified through gendered narratives and rhetorical tools? How did the deployment of women’s rights rhetoric change during and in-between this period? Were there some distinctions in the use of rhetoric and gendered categorizations between the U.S. and German administration officials, two countries with very different foreign policy traditions? The source material of this thesis consists mainly of speeches, press briefings, debates and statements given by the state officials from the United States and Germany in 2001−2002 and 2007−2008. The speech material was collected from the online databases of the U.S. Department of State, the White House, the German Federal Government and the debate records of the German Parliament. The methodological framework of discourse analysis was used for analysing the rhetoric. Especially two tools of discourse analysis were utilized: the analysis of hegemonic discourses and the analysis of rhetoric and argumentation. By de-naturalizing the hegemonic discourses and identifying simplifying narratives, this thesis aims to reveal how discourses can consolidate power, essentialize gender roles and situate the human subjects through discourse to unequal positions of power. However, women’s rights rhetoric practised by major world leaders is not seen as necessarily positive or negative per se: What matters is the framing and the context of the rhetoric. By analyzing the gendered rhetoric, this thesis intends to find more nuanced ways of using and manipulating gendered categories to legitimize domination and control. In the years 2001 and 2002, the first two years of the war, the Bush administration utilized the image of the masculine hero, who must protect his country under threat. Even though this hero could be a woman or man, the virtues that he represented were congenitally masculine: strength, force, heroism and courage. He had to protect the country from a new type of an enemy: the mad, savage- or even animal-like, women-hating terrorist. His sadistic treatment of women was emphasized to show his barbarism. The depiction of a normal and civilized Muslim man was almost non-existent in the discourse, the image of the terrorist Muslim man was dominant. The corruption and human rights abuses of the Northern Alliance members in the Karzai government were left unaddressed. The role of the American woman in this discourse was to be calm, collected and supportive, as embodied in the First Lady, Laura Bush. The Afghan women were treated as one singular, homogenic group in the discourse – as objects to be saved. In the German discourse the masculine protector was not as celebrated as in the U.S., the discourse of the Afghan women was almost identical. The Gerhard Schröder administration also wanted to carry its responsibility towards the women-liberating West. By 2007−2008 the war had turned out to be tiring and extremely challenging, but the masculine protector was still standing strong in the U.S. discourse. There were no signs of hesitation, regret, admitting mistakes or a change of strategy with Karzai’s government, Northern Alliance and its alleged corruption. The situation of Afghanistan’s women was painted as a success story, with no real need to talk about the still prevailing misogyny. There were no separate big speeches discussing the still existing problems in women’s rights sector. The critical voices from the opposition parties were challenging the discourse of the government led by chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007−2008 in Germany. Yet again the German administration utilized the threat of Afghan women falling back in the hands of Taliban and women being massacred to silence the war opposers. Critical voices coming from Afghan women about the warlordization and corruption of Northern Alliance were still ridiculed or silenced, as demonstrated in the case of the Afghan activist and former parliamentarian, Malalai Joya. The voices of silent and grateful women were however accepted easily as representing “all” Afghan women. This thesis sheds new light on the feminist analysis of the War on Terror by demonstrating how easily Bush administration’s rhetoric was co-opted by another coalition country. The analysis shows that even after seven years of warfare, women’s rights were still strongly utilized in the war legitimizing discourse by both countries under scrutiny. This thesis concludes that the utilization of feminist rhetoric by major world powers should not only be criticized but it could also be used to push forward the implementation of feminist policies. The deconstruction of the hegemonic war narratives and listening also to criticism and contestation could open new discursive spaces for building long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.
  • Karlsson, Thomas Malte Molnár (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The way environmental issues are discursively constructed matters for how they are understood and what possibilities there are to solve them. This makes it relevant to investigate discourses around environmental issues and their proposed solutions. One such solution is ecological compensation, which has been widely implemented as a way to avoid environmental degradation and achieve no net loss of biodiversity. Compensation is also a contested mechanism, however, which has been shaped by the interplay of various discourses with diverging understandings of nature conservation. In this study, I investigate how ecological compensation is constructed by experts in Finland. Using the concept of storylines (Hajer 1995) I analyse 9 interviews conducted with experts involved in the discussion around ecological compensation, which is currently being implemented into Finnish legislation. Three storylines are identified which construct ecological compensation either as 1) a way to enable private actors to take environmental responsibility, 2) additional legislation to fill a “gap” in current conservation practices, or 3) a possibility to modify the relationship with nature by fostering local deliberations. This shows diverging understandings of ecological compensation among the experts and contestation over the way it should be implemented. What is at stake in the discussion are questions of how nature conservation should be understood, which makes ecological compensation pivotal for reconfiguring the field of nature conservation by shifting understandings of the roles and responsibilities involved. At the same time, consensus exists about the need to implement ecological compensation, which the experts all agree is the only possibility to stop biodiversity loss in Finland. This is traced to the interpretative flexibility of the ecological compensation concept which accommodates conflicting understandings and enables the experts to agree about the need for ecological compensation while contesting the “details” of how the implementation should take place. In that way, the implementation is supported despite contestation, and the discussion is focused on how – rather than whether – ecological compensation should be implemented.