Review Essay: In the Trap of Synthesizing Discourse Analysis and Sociological Field Theory

Siegfried Jäger


In this book Oliver GEDEN analyses the ways two right-wing populist parties, the Austrian FPÖ and the Swiss SVP, interpret the topics of immigration and gender / family. He does so in the frame of a discourse analysis based on methods derived from the sociology of knowledge; and he combines the Foucauldian theory of discourse with the capital and field theory of Pierre BOURDIEU. He is first and foremost interested in (the great variety of) the reactions of both parties to their transition from opposition to government. By putting the various political topics into their respective contexts he succeeds in explaining these different reactions sociologically. To sum up: on the one hand the SVP remains stable and does not divert from its right-wing populist course, on the other the FPÖ becomes a kind of "pet swine" ["Verhausschweinung"], declines and loses voters and eventually splits up. Furthermore he tracks down the connections in the semiotic offerings of right-wing parties to "common-sense" knowledge in society. The analytical procedure and its theoretical links represent a common, present-day variety of discourse analysis. First, it does not approach the theoretical relationship between discourse and reality in the way FOUCAULT did, but refers to BOURDIEU. Second, explicitly—and to my mind not always beneficially—it postulates that discourse analysis has for a long time been dominated by linguistic concepts. However, one cannot forfeit the use of linguistic tools and neither does GEDEN ("semantic contents", "topics", "narratives", "style", "rhetorics"). It would be preferable to bring together the important discourse-analytical findings of various disciplines rather than—rashly—to have them compete against each other. Finally, this attempt at empirical analysis could well contribute to further elaboration on the concept of discourse analysis for the cultural sciences.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs070278


right wing populism; Austrian FPÖ; Swiss SVP; discourse; discourse analysis based on the sociology of knowledge; strategies of discourse; FOUCAULT; capital and field theory of BOURDIEU; interview; media; common sense; immigration; gender; family

Copyright (c) 2007 Siegfried Jäger

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