Education Linguistics Staff Writer  

What does “Discourse” mean?

Photo by Matt Atherton

There are two ways to approaching the concept “Discourse”

  • Firstly, “discourse” can be viewed as the different ways that people use language at the level of the sentence.

This is a restricted way of seeing discourse.

  • Secondly, “Discourse” with a capital “D”, is how combinations of language, culture and people shape our identities (Gee 2015).

Gee’s view of Discourse suggests all people have multiple identities and Discourses.

Photo by Wonderlane

Why are Discourses powerful?

Think about this: There is chaos in the world. Most of this chaos revolves around conflicting identities related to:

  • Faith
  • Gender
  • Political affiliation
  • Ethnicity
  • Economic class
  • ‘Race’

New Discourses can unite people in new ways

Through history powerful and influential people have used Discourses and identity to divide humans. We now have opportunities to create new Discourses that unite people in new ways.

The artist Prince (1984) described his vision of a new Discourse in his song “I would die 4 U”. He sings:

I’m not a human

I am a dove

I’m your conscience

I am love

Prince, 1984

For now, you can marinate in your mind on what kind of Discourse / Identity Prince was describing…lol.

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Mask 1 image source by Matt Atherton