Analysing Discourse. An Approach From the Sociology of Knowledge


  • Reiner Keller Universität Augsburg



sociology of knowledge, discourse, politics of knowledge, symbolic interactionism, frame, classification, narrative structure, grounded theory, Foucault, Berger, Luckmann


The contribution outlines a research pro­gramme which I have coined the "sociology of knowledge approach to discourse" (Wissens­sozio­logische Diskursanalyse). This approach to dis­course integrates important insights of FOU­CAULT's theory of discourse into the interpretative paradigm in the social sciences, especially the "German" approach of hermeneutic sociology of knowledge (Hermeneutische Wissenssoziologie). Accordingly, in this approach discourses are con­sidered as "structured and structuring structures" which shape social practices of enunciation. Un­like some Foucauldian approaches, this form of discourse analysis recognises the importance of socially constituted actors in the social production and circulation of knowledge. Furthermore, it com­bines research questions related to the concept of "discourse" with the methodical toolbox of qual­itative social research. Going beyond ques­tions of language in use, "the sociology of knowl­edge ap­proach to discourse" (Wissenssozio­logi­sche Dis­kurs­analyse) addresses sociological inter­ests, the analyses of social relations and politics of knowl­edge as well as the discursive construction of re­al­ity as an empirical ("material") process. For empiri­cal research on discourse the approach proposes the use of analytical concepts from the sociology of knowledge tradition, such as inter­pretative schemes or frames (Deutungsmuster), "clas­sifi­ca­tions", "phenomenal structure" (Phäno­men­struktur), "narrative structure", "dispositif" etc., and the use of the methodological strategies of "grounded theory". URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503327


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Author Biography

Reiner Keller, Universität Augsburg

Dr. Reiner KELLER, born in 1962, studied sociology at the University of Saarbrücken (Germany), Rennes (France), and Bamberg (Germany). In the early nineties he did empirical research on questions of the social use of psychotherapy and on environmental discourse in different European countries. His PhD thesis analysed the symbolic-cultural dimension of German and French public discourses on waste policies. Since 1997 he has been teaching sociology at the University of Augsburg (Germany). In 2004 he completed his postdoctorate research on the subject of the Wissenssoziologische Diskursanalyse. His main research interests include the development of discourse theory and research, the sociology of knowledge and culture, the theory of reflexive modernisation and the boundary management between nature and society inherent to institutional practices. He has published extensively on these issues.




How to Cite

Keller, R. (2005). Analysing Discourse. An Approach From the Sociology of Knowledge. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3).

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