Review Essay: How Critical Discourse Analysis Faces the Challenge of Interpretive Explanations from a Micro- and Macro-theoretical Perspective


  • Una Dirks University of Hildesheim



critical discourse analysis, interdisciplinarity, micro- and macro-theoretical perspectives, (self-) reflexivity, interpretive explanations, theories of situations and actions, Max WEBER, Hartmut ESSER, middle-range theories


The review starts with a brief outline of recent publications on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and its historical roots. Next, the volume is discussed on behalf of the features its editors, Ruth WODAK and Gilbert WEISS, have attributed to CDA themselves: i.e., 1) clarification of the basic CDA-notions, 2) the interpretive explanatory as well as critical impact of providing insights into institutional, structure-related dimensions in connection with textual/discursive, action-related aspects, and 3) the formation of methodically controlled second-grade constructions. Against this background, the volume's articles bring to light remarkable theses, searching strategies, and research findings that focus on the self-reflexive critique of the "critical" or on the situation of underprivileged and discriminated group members in different fields of action. Herewith, CDA presents itself as an interdisciplinary project in process that strives to meet high empirical standards, of both linguistics and social studies. In line with this endeavour, the reviewer puts emphasis on the systematic differences between basic research and applied research as well as on the need of operationalising a theory of action in all details. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0602261


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Author Biography

Una Dirks, University of Hildesheim

Una DIRKS, born in 1961, holds a professorship (tenure track) for Applied Linguistics at the University of Hildesheim (Germany). Her main research areas focus on communication and conflict studies as well as on issues in education and EFL (English as a Foreign Language). The topic of her dissertation (Dr. phil.) is the Star-Wars-discourse in the international press (Philipps-University of Marburg, 1991). In her "habilitation" she investigates the biographies and professionalism of teachers in Eastern Germany (Martin-Luther-University of Halle, Otto-v.-Guericke-University of Magdeburg, 1998). Her current research project deals with the de- / construction of the Iraq conflict in the international press. In a previous issue of FQS Una DIRKS has also written the review essay "Chances and Obstacles of an 'Understanding Explaining' Illustrated by Linguistic and Cultural Studies' Approaches to Auto-/Biographies" (




How to Cite

Dirks, U. (2006). Review Essay: How Critical Discourse Analysis Faces the Challenge of Interpretive Explanations from a Micro- and Macro-theoretical Perspective. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(2).