Free Report On Discursive Analysis Essay.

Foundation Course – Researching Psychology

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The research being conducted has practical, theoretical and scientific value in the research field. Lacanian discourse analysis helps identify the treatment in psychoanalysis, can be applied to studying mental and social characteristics of a language spoken by various minorities.
An interviewer and an interviewee took part in a research; the conversation was written down and attached to the paper on the consent of the interviewee. The theory of Lacanian Discursive Analysis has been applied to the paper in order to identify the symbolic and the imaginary unconscious reflected in the language spoken.
In the first section of the paper I introduce Lacanian phenomenon the unconscious through the imaginary and the symbolic in the language. The second part deals with methodology, being eligible to apply for the analysis of a discourse concerning the issue of racism. The core foundation ideas of the theory as well as the structuralized organizational scheme of the discourse have been identified. Spontaneous character and the wavy behavior of repetition in a discourse make discursive analysis easier. The Lacanian sense of lack is applicable for racism related discourses. The third part of the paper deals with analyzing different discursive situations in terms of such notions of the language, as grammatical and lexical structures, other extra-linguistic means.
As a result of the research we get three discursive situations, some of which contain several episodes, analyzed under the Lacanian Discourse. We have identified the four fundamental elements of each situation and disclosed unconscious premises hidden. However, the attempts to make the research detailed without making any suppositions at all is impossible due to the impossibility to penetrate a person’s mind.

Lacanian Discourse Analysis of Interviewee

In this discursive analysis I will be concerned with an interviewee who has Greek origin and is currently getting education in Scotland. While accomplishing this analysis I cannot get away with introducing the linguistic part of the interview only, I also need to make the interviewee a part of the Lacanian Discourse Analysis Schemata. The recognition of the interviewee’s exceptional world-building inside the theoretical boundaries of the Discourse Theory will help me avoid personal interpretations of the interviewee’s speech and make my bearings through the linguistic part more easily, be involved in ‘visualizing mental processes in a more accurate way’ (Gallagher, 1995). My aim in applying this analysis is to avoid judgment of any kind, reach the abstraction, which is a significant advantage, as the theory of the Four Discourses is not chained to ‘any particular context or situation and so could be used to examine or represent any subject’ (Verhaeghe 1995). Moreover, thus, any personal experience of any representative of a discourse will not influence the analysis anyhow. Verhaeghe (1995) believed that the problem of leading a competent psychoanalysis can be questioned as the people in charge, managing the whole process have their own symbolic, subjective vision, just being live creatures. Therefore my goal as a person in charge is to avoid any personal implications and apply the Lacanian theory to the discourse specifically. You will be able to track the appliance of the theory through the paper, observe the Four Discouse methods employed and get acquainted with the interview transcript, which will be introduced in the Appendix I.
The examination of racism through text and conversation analysis provides not only the ability to apply the knowledge to analyze the grammatical structures that various ethnic biases use, but also practice it in various social, mental, cultural, political structures (Van Dijk, 1993).Even though the interview was held by the author of the work personally, hoping that the analysis will reflect and embrace the whole background of the narrator’s racist experience is futile as no one is able to penetrate and absorb another person’s thoughts and personal perception of the world. It has been admitted by Evans (1996), that even the deepest and the most serious research of the basics written by the philosophers that lead Lacan to his Discourse Analysis theory will never give us the whole concept neither of the subject nor of the language it was written in. Moreover, traditional genetism is too one-sided and is prone to provide explanations rather than understanding. This is why most frequently understanding demands thrusting into the world being explored, which happened in a live speech, which creates some kind of a continuum, in which understanding becomes possible, and this is inevitable. This is why we should not take the Discourse theory for a dogma, but more certainly clarify the phenomenal foundation, the discourse is based on.


Already in the middle of the twentieth century, Lacan was developing and simultaneously transforming Freud’s ideas, thus, suggesting a new concept of language structuring by the image of the unconscious. An individual’s connection with the society occurs together with accepting the symbolic order integrated in the language. During the process of symbolic compensation, happening on the last stage of ‘mirror stage’, according to Lacan, an individual gets the right to participate in the social process thanks to sharing the common language, complying with its imperative resources (Lacan, 1995).
Lacan (1995) claims that ‘the unconscious maintained in accord with my inaugural resolution as an effect of the signifier and structured like a language was here taken up as a temporal pulsation’. His primary thesis is that the unconscious is the consequence of the language, not any other way (Gallagher, 1995). What Lacan (1995) decides to underline is that such phenomenon as the unconscious appears before anything else in grammatical, syntactical, morphological structures. This means that our unconscious can be noticed as a sudden wave and a professional can observe it repeatedly analyzing someone’s speech, exceptionally during a therapeutic session (Gallagher, 1995).
Another basic concept of the whole theory is repetition. Lacan (1995) claimed in his summary that ‘in repetition there was brought to light the function of the tuche concealed behind the appearance of automatic behaviour: the misses encounter is isolated here as relation to the real’. Gallagher (1995) believes that the wavy character of repetition is not the matter by the custom, however, it is rather something that you may catch if you got a lucky chance.
The whole concept of the analysis appears, when Lacan stresses ‘intersubjectivity’ in his description of a discourse. Now, a ‘social bond, founded in the language’ apply to the term. Lacan notices four kinds of the bond, which regulate the mentioned above intersubjectivity (Evans, 1996). The four discourses are the discourse of the master, the discourse of the university, the discourse of the hysteric and the discourse of the analyst. The algorithm represented by Lacan contains four mathematic elements:
S1 = the master signifier
S2 = knowledge
$ = the subject
a = surplus enjoyment
According to McMahon (1997) ‘the Signifier [S1] controls significance. It bounds and limita affects, and comprises the limits and centers information and affects’. The Signifier is the one who decides whether the discourse is productive or not. However, the signifier is prone to give up hysteric in order to keep the meaning on the image of the normal order of things.
Signifying chains [S2] are the links somehow controlled by the Signifier. A subject is ‘created by a lack of power. It is linked both to the Signifier and the object of desire, and is torn between propriety and perversity. It loves and plots against the Signifier’. The object of desire is the feeling of relief in the possession of the object at the end.
Summarizing the ideas above, I can introduce the four fundamental symbols of the Lacanian Discourse Analysis. There exists four positions in the structure of the four discourses, that differs one from another, and each of them is defined by a certain name. The structure was introduced by Lacan (1975) in the following way:
Each position is designated by the four mathematic symbols, which always keep the order, so each discourse is the consequence of rotating the whole scheme around by a quarter (Evans, 1996). The place of ‘the agent’ is the dominant position and the position of the semblance. Lacan (1975) . Lacan (1975) employed two arrows, one of which symbolizes ‘impossibility’ and is directed from the agent to the other, the other one symbolizes ‘powerlessness’ and is directed from the production to truth.
The discourse of the Master is the main one, all the others are derived from it by rotating the scheme a quarter anticlockwise (Evans, 1996). According to Evans (1996), ‘the discourse illustrates clearly the structure of the master and the slave. The master S1 is the agent S2 who puts the slave to work; the result of the work is the surplus a, that the master attempts to appropriate’.
During the discourse of the University, the dominant position is occupied by knowledge, which depicts the attempt at domination of the knowledge with whom the knowledge is shared. It illustrates the knowledge hegemony which is popular in the modern world, especially in the image of science (Evans, 1996).
The discourse of the Hysteric, where the dominant position is represented both by the subject and the symptom, pays our attention to the way towards knowledge. This is a practical way of defining psychoanalytic treatment (Evans, 1996).
The discourse of analyst introduces the surplus enjoyment in the position of the agent. This shows that the patient can be treated only providing the analyst is interested.
At a starting point, we are going to read the interview without any attempt to analyze it and view it from the reader’s point, trying to stay as open to the information provided as possible. We need that to detect lack in the future analyzing, as even at the primitive understanding, a personal experience of lack is possible to identify. ‘Lacanian lack is the very lack of being, which is the foundation of human existence’ (Mlodziniak, 2012).
As it has been mentioned before, we are trying to show that ‘the consideration ofLacanian theorizing on the imaginary, the symbolic and the real to critical reading of textual material allows for experiencing glimpses of the fleeting subject’. We need to track the subject through different possible variants a discourse can provide applying theoretical strategies to every case. It is impossible to avoid difficulties as all of the dimensions are interconnected. However, this only proves that there is no way from the imaginary and the symbolic in a discourse (Mlodziniak, 2012).
Some part of the analysis will concentrate on the subject of the imaginary. I will try to study the role of lack and its connection to the feeling there is a loss. Lacanian example of ego in the imaginary is connected with the mirror stage, the myth about Narcissus, who took his own reflection for someone else’s (Mlodziniak, 2012). ‘The mirror stage brings about the emergence of fantasy, i.e. fantasy of unification in lacking subject’ (Mlodziniak, 2012).


The chosen interviewee is questioned about racism, his attitude towards it and personal experience concerning the topic. The interviewee claims to be ‘completely against racism’, he is from Greece and studies in Scotland. The discourse exposes an approach of the interviewee’s attitude towards discrimination as well as being discriminated in a foreign country. The interviewee describes himself as ‘a fourth year student and I study Biomedical Sciences in Edinburgh Napier University’, and believes that the matter of racism is lack of education: ‘I think what matters is education’.
In the situation of being friends with the ‘different’, being ‘different’ himself and having a chance for discriminating ‘immigrants’, the interviewee chooses to stay ‘tolerant’ and ‘educated’. The main body of the interview focuses on the problems that may be caused by racism, the causes of racism and the measures of their prevention in the future.
The first discourse we are going to analyze is the situation that happened between the interviewee and his friend who ‘voted a koma that its neo-nazi back in Greece ‘. We cannot avoid applying the imaginary in this situation as content of identities could not be re-estimated without it (Dashtipour, 2009). In Lacanian analysis, the imaginary supported by the symbolic is the foundation of identity as well as it creates the subject to be provided with unity and wholesomeness (Dashtipour, 2009). The interviewee expresses hesitation and makes pauses ‘one of my friends (laughs), it’s a bit funny, well one of my friends’, ‘his reasons were just (laughs) like they come ‘. He uses words expressing uncertainty, such as ‘like’, ‘may be’, ‘wasn’t sure’. The narrator doesn’t define racism, its reasons for other people with concrete words, but rather refers to it as ‘stuff like that’. The lexical structure shows that he seems to lack knowledge on how to treat those, who ‘voted a koma that its neo-nazi’. The reasons for surface structures in the discursive analysis are hardly controlled by the speaker (van Dijk, 1993). People may make pauses, hesitate, correct themselves or show doubt as a signal of lack of knowledge. Van Dijk (1993) claims that hesitation in conversations about minorities about the ‘tolerant’ way to express self in sensitive situations such as racism ‘may reveal much about the underlying mental strategies and representations of majority group members, such as whether or not their opinions about the minorities are in the line with the general formal norm (of tolerance) or those of the recipient’.
The interviewee encounters the same conflict with the imaginary and the symbolic in another part of the discourse. The interviewee was asked about the children and educating theim about racism, however, he focuses on not knowing if the behaviour that is considered appropriate is possible to be designated: ‘sometimes I overthink if I make a new friend who is Asian or black “can I say that or he may find it racist?”’.
Here we also face the ‘mirror stage’, when the viewer is afraid to look into the mirror to see not what he wants to see, even though this is what he is interested in.

Thus, the discursive analysis of the mentioned above situations can be represented in the form of the following sheme:

Narrator (S1) Racists (S2)
Norms of tolerance ($) // Knowledge (a)
Another discursive episode under analysis is the situation when the accepter of difference becomes ‘different’ himself.
Abuse and discrimination take the role of the agent and rule the whole process: ‘go back where the fuck you came from’. The grammatical structure and lexical peculiarities are clear from the context through their directness and straightforwardness, making the hysterical discourse more easily identifiable. The Other is introduces by the difference the narrator represents for the abuser. The surplus desire of domination stands in the position of truth. The common picked up knowledge gained by the abuser become form the chain of signifiers, and the reinforce obtains the symbolic. The social rejection of the difference constitutes the imaginary of the society. The abuser doesn’t want to cover his attitude, which is why we don’t have to guess and catch the wave of pulsation in a talk. However, if the person were sober, his attitude could be identified through the grammatical structure or nonverbal communication means. Van Gijk () says that even someone may try to make a friendly tone or a mild voice, the loudness, gestures, the pitch and the mimics may sell the speaker out. In such cases grammatical structures used are direct, passive voice is avoided, the object and the subject is very clear from the context.
The hysterical discourse is troublesome as it is prone to be unstable and unrealistic. However, this is the key way to identify the treatment. Hysteria breaks linguistic and disciplinary and crosses the boundaries. Hysteria contradicts itself and lacks information as, according to McMahon (1997), it combines both the symptom and the subject ‘of the question takes the place of the real business: the text, the ego of the master, or the need to make a worthwhile contribution to the field. Hysteria makes spurious economies where counterfeit circulates. Hysteria turns the question/reply transaction into a ruse’. Being dysfunctional, hysteric lacks knowledge, but is still supposed to love the Master or Analyst precisely because of its ignorance (Lacan. 1985). McMahon (1997) stated that ‘hysterics are like sorceresses, positioned on the fringes. They are intermediaries between the "civilised" and the "wild", between the structured and the unstructured, between the formal and the heterogeneous, which is why listening to a hysteric can be so thought provoking’. 

Thus the whole discursive situation can be represented with the following scheme:

Abuse ($) Difference (S1)
Domination (a) // Social traditions (S2)
In the interview the immigrants are depicted not as those, who steal jobs from the aborigines, but as those who had to leave their mother countries in order to survive. In our case they are more represented as ‘heros’, the image of whom depicts the imaginary through the ‘mirror’ with ‘narcissistic ideal-egos of the ‘immigrant’ identity’ (Dashtipour, 2009).
These images can be portrayed as unitary and pleasant. In this sense, the immigrant is represented as a regular part of any society, as compensating lack in the professional sphere, as well as a positive socializer. The Other becomes a label of claimed social standards, a new perspective, as the ideal goal the community should be aimed at (Dashtipour, 2009).
Another variant of an ‘immigrant’ image in the language is ‘gringo. According to gringo, the incongruity of presuppositions is shown through the exaggeration of stereotypes (Dashtipour, 2009). For example: ‘TV and all that you hear from the media in Greece are saying about illegal immigrants from Africa or India or Pakistan, and as a result it’s like every time you see a person from those countries you think that he is an illegal immigrant, even though you don’t even know from where he is from’.
Consequently, on the one hand, the text above is representing the negative attitude in an exaggerated way, which makes the reader perceive the immigrants from Africa, India or Pakistan ‘illegal. However, it also implies that the immigrant is aware that these stereotypes are not in reality true (Dashtipour, 2009). However, the fact that the written interview is our imaginary leader and exaggeration is not aimed at criticizing, but minimal respect. Thus, the supposition that the exaggeration is aimed at unmasking the incongruity of presuppositions is ambiguous (Dashtipour, 2009).
However, discursive situation in our care is something in between. The image created differs from the image of a ‘hero’ and the image of a ‘gingo’.

The interviewee speaks about the immigrants in the following way:

‘TV and all that you hear from the media in Greece are saying about illegal immigrants from Africa or India or Pakistan, and as a result it’s like every time you see a person from those countries you think that he is an illegal immigrant, even though you don’t even know from where he is from’;
‘but due to economic crisis lots of immigrants will immigrate to other countries and they may face racism or discrimination, so in a sense they will keep a kind of a balance, but I think educational campaigns can surely decrease, yes decrease, the number of racism’;
‘like discrimination to immigrants is a little bit more harsh cause you don’t want to be an immigrant, as you are forced to be an immigrant.’.

In our case the discursive situation can be represented with the following scheme:

Society (S1) Immigrants (S2)
Cultural positives and negatives ($) // Balance (a)

Reference List

Dashtipour, P., 2009. Contested Identities: Using Lacanian Psychoanalysis to Explore and Develop Social Identity Theory. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 7, 320-337.
Evans, D., 1996. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. [e-book] Routledge, Available through Google Library Website <> [Accessed 26 July 2015].
Gallagher, G., 1995. Lacan’s Summary of Seminar XI. The Letter: Lacanian Perspectives on Psychoanalysis, 5, 1-17.
Lacan, J. 1975.  Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore. Paris: Seuil, 101.
Lacan, J., Feldstein, R., Fink, B., & Jaanus, M., 1995. Reading seminar XI: Lacan’s four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. Reading Seminar XI: Lacan's four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. Albany: State University of New York.
McMahon, C.R., 1997. Hysterical Academies: Lacan's Theory of the Four Discourses. International Journal: Language, Society, and Culture, 2.
Mlodziniak, M., 2012. Subjective identification in an encounter with ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint Exupery. Exploration of the Conception of Subjectivity in Reconstructed Narratives – Lacanian Discourse Analysis. Edindurgh Napier Universit, pp. 1-29.
Van Dijk, T.A., 1993. Analyzing racism through discourse analysis: Some methodological reflections. Sage Publications, Inc.
Verhaeghe, P., 1995. From Impossibility to Inability. Lacan’s Theory of the Four Discourses. The Letter: Lacanian Perspectives on Psychoanalysis, 3, 91-108.
Appendix IQ: Thank you for taking part to the interviewA: you are very welcomeQ: How old are you?A: 22Q: Where are u from?A: I am from GreeceQ: Do you study here?A: I do, I am a fourth year student and I study Biomedical Sciences in Edinburgh Napier University.Q: How many years have you been living in Scotland?A: Four years, since the start of my degree.Q: Do you work at the same time?A: Yeah, I am working 3 days a week.Q: Apart from Scotland, do you travel abroad a lot?A: Not really, I am just going back to Greece to see my family, as I am from Greece, so I am going back every summer. Q: Do you think race is an important part of someone’s identity? And if yes, why?A: Yeah, because when people see you or meet you and they see that your accent is different than them, they ask you “where are you from?” and they see you as that race and they start judging you before they get to know you.Q: How would you define racism?A: Well, you can define it as treating someone differently from others because of their race/ethnicity or for just being different outside without knowing them.Q: Do you consider yourself a racist? And why yes or not.A: I am not No, I don’t think I am because I have a gay best friend, and I work with a lot black guys, I am ok with it. Err, I just see everybody as a human being, I don’t want to be judged just because of my race, so I don’t judge other before I talk to them. Q: Where you live are there a lot of immigrants?A: In my area in Greece no, but if you go downtown you can find a large number of immigrants. Here in Scotland, due to universities, there are many cultures involved in this series so you can say in a sense that there are lots of immigrants, but they are not as they are just studying here, but I guess there would be immigrants yes. Q: Have you ever been a victim of racism or even witness?A: Thankfully I have not, noso far. Aaah only once you can say I was in a pub here in Scotland with some Greek friends drinking a beer and at some point a drunk old guy just told us “go back where the fuck you came from.” (laughs) well we just didn’t reply.Q: Have you ever witnessed or experienced an act of racial discrimination? For example, within your family, friends, seeing it in public.A: Well yeah, one of my friends (laughs), it’s a bit funny, well one of my friends told me that he voted a koma that its neo-nazi back in Greece and when he told me that, he was like a bit embarrassed, maybe because he wasn’t sure how I would react as he knows that I am completely against racism and when I asked him why he did that, his reasons were just (laughs) like they come to our country illegally to get our jobs with lower income than we do and stuff like that, that logic for me doesn’t make any sense. Also, my father is a bit of racist sometimes, but I don’t think that you can call him racist.Q: Would you say you have a different level of attraction to different races?A: Err well, not really just when I go out here in Scotland and hear Greek or watch someone that looks Greek I will say to myself “look a Greek, I bet he is Greek”. Q: Do you think that age matters in racism? Younger or older people are more racist in your opinion?A: Well I think that age doesn’t matter, err I think what matters is education, older people didn’t have access to education as we do today and also some of them have survived through wars, so I think they are more close-minded than we, younger people, are. Q: What about children?Well children don’t really know what racism is so they may just want to learn about another race or stuff. On the other hand, from personal experience, sometimes I overthink if I make a new friend who is Asian or black “can I say that or he may find it racist?”Q: Do you think that you can find racism in work and/or in university?A: Not so much in university, because everyone has a different matriculation number and the name does not appear in term of grades, exams or assessments. But I think there is racism in work, especially during the interview stages some employers may not hire some females or fat females or whatever that is different than the supposed normal.Q: Do you think the same applies and in big companies?A: I am not sure about the companies, because they have a good reputation most of them and if someone gets rejected because of like discrimination issues, it will probably spread around the world and they will lose some of their fame and reputation. On the other hand, in the small companies I believe that yeah there is discrimination. Q: Do you think it’s worse than the past?A: .I am not sure about that I think that things have been improved due to campaigns and politics. However there are and there will always be accidents of racism. This commonly changes like the nature of human brain or sociology or whatever that is.Q: So you told us you are from Greece, which country and why in your opinion has more racism Greece or Scotland?A: I think its Greece.becauselike the basis of education.the education in Greece is not the best so in Scotland is more updated and upgradedso I think you can teach a kid not to be racist by just putting different children with different backgrounds and cultures in the same room/class and make them feel like they are a team, as I don’t believe that you are born a racist.Q: Who do you think is responsible for someone becoming a racist?A: I guess it’s the society, and as I said before everything starts from education. Also, is the way that the family raises their child. So it all starts from what the kid hears in the house.Q: Do you think media also influences racism? A: I Appreciate that they saying the nationality when a crime happens, but sometimesthey say also the colour of the skin, I don’t know why, so yeah I think they are promoting racism sometimes. Moreover, TV and all that you hear from the media in Greece they are saying about illegal immigrants from Africa or India or Pakistan, and as a result it’s like every time you see a person from those countries you think that he is an illegal immigrant, even though you don’t even know from where he is from.Q: If you were in front of a racist argument, would you get in to stop them?A: Like a fight?Q: Yes.A: It depends really on the situation of the argument. Like let’s say that five people were attacking an immigrantI would like to but I don’t think I would be able to get into that fight.Q: Would you at least call the police?A: I would. Yes.Q: Do you think that racism will decrease in the next years?A: hmm that’s a good question I would say it will decrease as time pass by, but due to economic crisis lots of immigrants will immigrate to other countries and they may face racism or discrimination, so in a sense they will keep a kind of a balance, but I think educational campaigns can surely decrease, yes decrease, the number of racism.Q: they are all type of racism, but which one do you believe that it is the worst? Racism for immigrants or religion? Homophobia or sexism? And why?A: I would say all of them are a form of racism..each of them have their own ups and discrimination to immigrants is a little bit more harsh cause you don’t want to be an immigrant, as you are forced to be an immigrant.well the same goes for everything I guessbut yeah I don’t know why but I believe the racism for immigrants is the worst.maybe it’s because is the most common one.Q: Ok, thank you for participatingA: You are welcome.

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