CONTESTING COMMON SENSE DISCOURSE: LANGUAGE, POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY

Open Access
Author:
Gounari, Panagiota
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
April 20, 2004
Committee Members:
  • Henry A Giroux, Committee Chair
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Member
  • Paul Youngquist, Committee Member
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • critical pedagogy
  • language and common sense
  • language and democracy
  • sociolinguistics
  • critical discourse analysis
Abstract:
Given a historical moment marked by a plethora of political, ideological, social, racial, cultural, religious, and other crises in the public terrain, there is a critical need to confront the notion of political neutrality. I argue that these crises are symptomatic of a deeper malady of our contemporary societies, namely the depoliticization of politics. Within this framework, I provide various instances of discourses and discursive practices that illustrate the ways in which language may be used both as an ideology and a means for imposing a dominant view upon others. I also discuss examples of the ways language could be used to contest such practices in the struggle to revitalize politics. Given that politics must always find its point of departure in the concrete situation, it is important to identify the discourses and discursive practices that block individuals from developing pertinent subjective positions. Redefining politics raises questions of ethical responsibility about the degree to which individuals, concerned with public affairs, are promoting their own special interests. When we raise questions about the space politics inhabits and the ways it neutralizes itself discursively, thereby depoliticizing politics, we are also exposing the various types of agency that this process produces or suppresses. My goal is to repoliticize and re-historicize the question of language and its ensuing discourses and reveal the discursive practices that shape it and are shaped through it, in an attempt to reclaim it as a tool for civic participation, political and critical literacy and the articulation of difference, that is vital to a form of agency for democratic citizenship.