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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

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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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50 Chapter Three Thus, the term abstraction (treated as a mass noun) will be used in this study in a more general sense than it is used by Martin (1997). It will be used to refer to the set of resources which realise semiotic distance from congruence. However, Martins distinction between abstractions (as a count noun) and metaphors will be preserved, since this allows the distinction between those grammatical metaphors which also have a local ideational and textual function and those words, initially derived through grammatical metaphor, which have an extended ideational function. For analytical purposes metaphors and the different types of abstractions will be displayed differently. 3.5.3 Typology and topology One final theoretical point will be discussed here, the distinction between typology and topology. Typologies set up categorical distinctions between things for the purposes of classifying them. To be placed into different categories things must be regarded as differing along at least one dimension. Distinguishing things typologically is particularly useful when distinctions, or boundaries, between things are clear-cut. Taking simple geometric figures as examples, it is easy to distinguish between, say, a triangle and a pentagon, or between a rectangle and a square, or between a circle and an ellipse because each is defined categorically. Assigning things to discrete categories becomes more difficult, more arbitrary and less purposeful when boundaries are less distinct. Taking grammatical and text analysis as an example, the category of behavioural process shades into mental processes at one end and shades into material processes at the other end; or with genres, not all genres, however short, are prototypical examples of, say, report or explanation (See Martin and Rothery, 1986). Martin demonstrates the usefulness of the concept of topology in his discussion of genre agnation and systems of appraisal (Martin, 1996: 12-27). Both of these lend themselves to being viewed as gradations within the same semiotic space rather than as involving a number of discrete categories. Typological and topological perspectives can be viewed as being complementary rather than as in opposition. 21131 text.indd 50 17/5/07 11:41:55 AM

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