The Dispositive is the idea that there is one system (net) of knowledge which links:-

Who Has Power

Who has Power (and why) ?

Jaeger has also approached this question (Jaeger, 2001, p. 34), writing that ‘power is easily exercised over discourse, in the form of easy access to media, unlimited access to resources,’ (he wrote this about a science discourse, but it applies to everyday, educational, political and media discourses too).

This seems to imply that access to resources and media is the key to power, and that controlling this access is central.five coloued shapes form a cycle

How Power Works

Jaeger states a hypothesis that ‘Discourses exercise power as they transport knowledge on which the collective and individual consciousness feeds. This emerging knowledge is the basis of individual and collective action and the formative action that shapes reality.’ (Jaeger, 2001, p. 38)

Wodak also makes several interesting points about how power works (Wodak, 2001, p. 11):-

What is Power

If we really knew what power was, we could measure it, collect it, and perhaps even sell it. However, it is an idea we use. Some people, some systems, organisations and countries seem to have more of it than others - how and why does this work ?

CDA is very interested in power, and this interest motivates many of the leading academics (who tend to take the side of the underprivileged against the dominant). As UK agriculture seems to be a domain where power, influence and dominance exist, and I want to develop CDA techniques to examine this, so I have looked at some ideas about power in discourse.3 downward opointing purple arrows

CDA and Power

Critical Discourse Analysis has a deep interest in power – what it is, who has it and why, and how it works.

CDA Overview

Discourse can be described in great detail, as having strands, knots, positions, themes and many other elements, but academics now use discourse to help them understand many social and political issues, and this has developed into a new school of thought, Critical Discourse Analysis. A particular feature of CDA is its interest in the way power relationships are signalled in communications.

I have included some pages on CDA and Powerthree coloured cogs

Limits of Discourse

What are the Limits of Discourse ?

As with many academic ideas, discourse has a central area where it provides good explanations - where discourse strands, events, levels and positions, plus the idea that we individually and collectively ‘knit along together’ gives a clear idea of ‘the way things work’, especially in the realms of the media and politics.

However, as with all theories, there are boundary areas where the theory has difficulty, and discourse theory is no exception:-

Effects of Discourse

How Do Discourses Affect Us ?

I have summarised discursive events - on the one hand ‘discourse causes events’, but also, some ‘events cause discourse’. A series of such events forms the history of the discourse (and often provides a shorthand for commentators).

Societal Discourses

The overall societal discourse. In any particular society, there is an overall societal discourse, composed of a large number of strands, positions, etc. in a state of complex entanglement.


Planes and Positions

Discourse Planes. Different strands, and different sections of strands, operate on different discourse planes …… science, politics, media, education, everyday life, business life, administration, are all examples of different discourse planes. The media often takes ‘everyday discourse’ about events and sensationalises it (in the yellow press), dressing it up in a popular form. By some mechanism, this seems to regulate the everyday thinking of people and exercises influence on the political agenda and ‘what is conductible’ (that is, what discourses and positions are permissible at any one time).


Discourse Position. The category of a discourse position can refer to a specific ideological position of a person, plane or medium. In particular