by George McNamara
2. Discourse Position.
The discourse position can refer to a specific
ideological position of a person, plane or medium. In
The discourse position is the (ideological)
location from which people participate in the discourse
and assess it. This applies to individuals and also
groups or institutions, which may also take part in
discourses. (American free-market, and democracy positions
are typical of this type of ideological location)
Any discourse position is typified by
particular discursive entanglements which feed on the
previously, current and expected experiences of the
participant. This is often entirely predictable, such
as the positions taken up by vegetarians and meat-eaters.
The discourse position is a result of
the person's previous involvement in various discourses
in which the individual has been subjected (involved).
The person has been "knitted into" the discourse,
and has "knitted in" the discourse into their
What begins as a discourse position
may develop further (and be fixed) into an ideological
or institutional position.
This also applies to the media - the
way they use discourse strands forms them into implicit
discourse positions, which shape overall reporting -
we can predict the positions each newspaper will take.
Groups and individuals can assess and use discourse positions
in different ways
Hegemonial discourses might see a supermarket
as a positive symbol of wealth.
Anti-hegemonial discourses might see
the supermarket negatively (idealising small shops and
Economic discourses might only look
at the balance sheet.
Some people are so influenced by the
discourses of marketing that they have "my favourite
These different positions all relate
to the same basic discourse structure, the supermarket
These discourse positions belong (in
a rough form) to the general knowledge of the population,
who usually distrust both of the extreme positions.
Discourse positions within a dominant or hegemonial discourse
are usually rather homogeneous. This can be seen as a
function of hegemony - the positions will agree :-
Not to rock the boat
Not to cast doubt on the ruling economic
Discourse positions which DO deviate
from the dominant are sometimes assigned to the camp
of 'all opposing discourses', whether they fit there
However, opposing discourses (and elements
of them) can be introduced subversively into the hegemonial
discourse (e.g. the cliché 'time is money' can
be turned into a criticism of capitalism)
Some opposing discourses are allowed
to exist, for example, the organic discourse has been
allowed to enter supermarkets, but in a tightly controlled
way in terms of packaging and shelf-life - it has to
fit in with the 'supermarket paradigm' to get in
Next Page - Context