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On the Discourse of Social Science



On the Discourse of Social Science


Wignell, Peter F


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This book uses the theory and analytical tools of Systemic Functional Linguistics to examine the discourse of social science from two perspectives. First the prototypical discourse patterns of undergraduate textbooks in the disciplines of Economics, Sociology and Political Science are analysed. The rationale for this analysis is to show how the current orthodoxy of the disciplines is constructed. Second, the book considers the evolution of the discourse patterns of social science. It does this by examining canonical works from the history of the social sciences. As a contrast works from the humanities discipline of moral philosophy from the same time scale are analysed. It is argued that the discourse of the social sciences evolved as a kind of hybrid of the discourses of the humanities and the physical sciences. At the time of writing, Peter Wignell was a senior lecturer in Applied Linguistics in the Faculty of Education, Health and Science at Charles Darwin University. One of Peter's main research interests in the role of language in the creation of specialised knowledge.


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Table of contents

Ch. One -- Ch. Two -- Ch. Three -- Ch. Four: Part One:Systemic functional linguistic work on the discourses of science and humanities; Part 2: Reational for selection of texts and means of analysis -- Ch. Five: The discourse of social science: a synchronic perspective -- Ch. Six: The discourse of social sciences: diachronic analysis. Francis Bacon's Of Fortune (1625) -- Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) -- John Locke's Of Property -- David Hume's Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding -- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations 1776) -- David Ricardo (1817) The Principles of Politicial Econony and Taxation -- John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism -- Karl Marx's Capital -- Emile Durkheim's The Division of Labour -- Max Weber's The theory of social and economic organisation -- Ch. Seven: Summary, conclusions and speculations.




2004 - Linguistics; 1399 - Other Education; 1699 - Other Studies in Human Society; Language; Politics & Society

Publisher name

Charles Darwin University Press (CDU Press)

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x, 224 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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9780980292350; 980292352


Attribution International-NoDerivative 4.0 (CC-BY-ND 4.0)

Copyright owner

Wignell Peter F.



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95 Chapter Five One potentially interesting point emerges from this quote: in the transference from postulates, to theory, to fact, assumptions become facts. The technicality of the text begins immediately after the quote above. (All page numbers refer to Gwartney, Stroup and Clark, 1985.) Scarcity and choice are defined in economic terms (Note: the terms are highlighted in bold in the textbook. The notation conventions used for display are those used in the discussion of sociology): Scarcity (4): Scarcity is the term [[used by economists to indicate [[that man's desire for a "thing" exceeds the amount of it [[that is freely available from Nature]]]]]]. (Token) (Rel:Id) (Value) There are two points to note here. First is the translation from commonsense to technicality. The Value situates the Token in the field by giving it a field specific meaning (used by economists). Second, the Token (scarcity) is derived by grammatical metaphor and the Value contains three abstractions and one metaphor. In the nominal group realising the Value, the Thing is a semiotic abstraction and the Qualifier contains a metaphor and two generic abstractions. After scarcity a further term (economic good) is defined (4): A good [[that is scarce]] is an economic good. (Value) (Rel:Identifying) (Token) Here the term good is introduced but not defined although it is assumed to be more or less synonymous with commodity (See Chapter Four). The previous technical term, scarcity, is realised congruently (scarce) in the Qualifier in the nominal group realising the Value. The Value is then reconstrued into a Classifier^Thing structure in the Token. Choice is then defined with reference to scarcity: x Since scarcity [of productive resources, time, and income] limit the alternatives [[available to us]], we must make choices.. Choice is the act [of selecting among restricted alternatives]. Choices is introduced (in the alpha clause) in a relationship of dependency with scarcity (in the beta clause). Choice is introduced first as a grammatical metaphor. In the next sentence choices becomes choice, a shift from the process of choosing (metaphor) to the concept of choice (technical abstraction). The metaphor, choices, is instantial, choice is part of the field. In addition, limit, first realised congruently as a Process is realised metaphorically as restricted, an Epithet in the Value of the defining clause. A pattern appears to be emerging here similar to that observed in sociology. That is, grammatical metaphors and abstractions, acting as intermediaries between common sense and technicality in building the field, with things first construed abstractly and then reconstrued technically through abstract Tokens. The principal lexicogrammatical resource used here is the Qualifier in the nominal group structure. 21131 text.indd 95 17/5/07 11:42:04 AM 1- I

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