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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.


To purchase this book online visit the CDU Press website via the link below

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

File type



9780980292350; 980292352


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

Copyright owner

Wignell Peter F.



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127 Chapter Six There is no evidence of technicality in the text. That is, no terms are defined and no taxonomic relations are constructed. The text does, however, draw on an implicit taxonomy of human qualities (vertues), which are realised as nouns in the text. In the extended lexical motifs and implied taxonomic relations there is potential for technicality but this option is not taken up. The text is, however, abstract. The man in the text is a generic man so his fortune in this sense is generic fortune. Grammatical metaphors are liberally sprinkled throughout the text and are more concentrated in the Macro Theme. Potentially noteworthy is the metaphorical realisation of logical relations (Causes -- as noun, conduce (treated as analogous to cause or lead to-- verb). 6.2.2 Social Science Text One: Thomas Hobbes Leviathan (1651) In Leviathan, Hobbes presents the first detailed analysis of human nature and political organisation in English. Plato (427-347BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC) had done detailed social analyses in Classical Greece while, nearly two thousand years later, in Italy, Machiavellis Il Principe (The Prince) (1513), Vicos The New Science (1725) and in France Montesquieus Spirit of the Laws (1748) represent detailed Continental European socio-political analyses from before and after Hobbes. In the analysis of Leviathan, as a first step the first two Parts of Leviathan have been analysed at a macro (chapter) level for conjunctive relations between chapters. This is to determine both the macro logical structure of the text and the method of reasoning. The macro logical structure of Leviathan exemplifies the resolutive-compositive method of argumentation outlined in Chapter One. The whole work consists of four Parts. The analysis of the logical macrostructure concentrates on the first two of those Parts, Of Man and Of Common-wealth. The chapter headings from the first two Parts of Leviathan are shown below (From Hobbes, 1651: 77-78): 21131 text.indd 127 17/5/07 11:42:13 AM

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