Discourse Events

Some events get emphasised by the media (or politically), and become discursive events, and others don't. For example, Chernobyl WAS a major discursive event, but the similar Harrisburg incident was barely reported at all, and the media even kept it secret for many years. This depends on the respective political power constellation and developments. In a similar way, the Hiroshima atomic bomb remains a discourse event (pictured below)

Structure of Discourse

Structures and Properties of Discourse (strands, events, levels, etc.)

Discourse may have begun from simple questions, but it has now elaborated into a massive field. I summarise below some of the main current ideas about the nature and structure of discourse (from Jaeger, 2001, pp 46-51)

The Original Questions

I wondered how discourse might have begun, and I imagine that the earliest humans only had a few basic questions in their lives:-

  • What is safe to eat ?
  • How can we get more of it ?
  • How can we store it so we never run out of food and go hungry ?

These questions have now evolved into a massively complex system of ideas (especially complex since economics began by trading foodstuffs at the start of  history ?).


Discourse can be described as the ‘great milling mass’ of thought, opinion, information, assessments, and so on, that fills millions of column inches of newspapers and magazines, and hours of radio, TV and conversations

It is a convenient word to use, with advantages over the concepts of thought and mind. Discourse in practice implies that ‘we all knit along together’ in a number of fields, reacting to events, comparing schools of thought, adapting to new (and more fashionable) ideas. It is a more collective view of thought, and from this viewpoint, there is little ‘new’ thought which is our own – we adapt the general discourses around us and in the media, and take up a fairly narrow range of positions in relation to these discourses.

Discourse Toolbox

Discourse Toolbox – introduction and outline

Discourse may seem like another gimmick, but it is more serious and more effective than that - It is an attempt to go beyond the debating, commentating and campaigning which fill the mass media. The Discourse Toolbox gives an potential to develop agreed and definitive answers to questions like "What are they thinking of to say that ?" and "What are they really saying ?".

From a range of theoretical material, I have extracted a toolbox of techniques, particularly using those aspects of the theories that are well-suited to the toolbox approach.  (detailed at the foot of this page)

How Thought Works

How Thought Works - Some Ideas from Text Analysis

Text Anlysis is an academic field, but it has far-reaching implications including some that raise 'spiritual' issues. While many philosophers and “spiritual people” concentrate on the ultimate nature of the mind, they ignore the products and workings of the mind.

When we examine texts and verbal statements using these techniques, we can work our way back to ask if these reveal the thoughts of the author or speaker. This raises further questions about 'how thought works' and even of how the self works ..........

The ideas are based on looking at 3 simple patterns in texts


Summary of Major Changes in Agriculture


In the previous pages, I have tried to give a brief listing of the changes in the last century to field agriculture, animal husbandry, harvesting, storage and processing of crops.

It seems to me that these changes are so extensive that a number of points can be made:-

Food Additives

It is difficult to think of a food nowadays where there are NO additives. Even table salt (pure sodium chloride) has calcium silicate added to make it flow better. If we include all the potential residues from the treatments in the field and greenhouse, and if we take care to read the labels of all the jars and cans to see what colourings, flavourings and preservatives are added, then we can see that the average consumer has a very different diet to 100 years ago.

Most of these additives have been individually tested in the laboratories to check that they are not toxic, but they have not been checked as an aggregate.

Food Processing

Food Processing and Preserving


100 years ago there were a few techniques available for preserving food - canning, bottling, pickling, salting, drying.

These are still the basic techniques, but many more new methods have been developed recently: