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Interdiscourse is the implicit or explicit relations that a discourse has to other discourses. Interdiscursivity is the aspect of a discourse that relates it to other discourses. Norman Fairclough prefers the concept "orders of discourse". Interdiscursivity is often mostly an analytic concept, e.g. in Foucault and Fairclough. Interdiscursivity has close affinity to recontextualisation because interdiscourse often implies that elements are imported from another discourse.

The meaning of interdiscourse varies. It denotes at least three levels:

An example (where 1. corresponds to a., etc.) illustrates the three levels: A minister of environment speaks in the parliament about a proposal.

The example illustrates that 2. and 3. are specific cases of 1, in the sense a-c all relate to another discourse. To avoid this, level 1. might be defined as relations to other discourses within the same discursive formation and type of discourse. Consequently, the definition of the levels depends on the definition of discursive formation and types of discourse, and the three levels may collapse to the extent that these concepts are not conceived. In short, the stratification of interdiscourse depends on the stratification of discourse.

Level 2. and 3. may be conceived as particularly salient. This is explained in Marc Angenot and Bruce by reference to Bakhtin: In Bakhtin's dialogism, the utterance is the natural meaningful and finalised unit of speech, which others are supposed to respond to, that is, others interpret the utterance by situating it in a discursive context. But, an utterance may be interpreted (contextualised) in various ways, and interdiscourse and interdiscursivity denote how certain such interpretations (and relations to other discourses) are socially more privileged than others. Since interdiscourse privileges certain interpretations, it has a close affinity to the concepts of ideology, hegemony and power (sociology). For Bakhtin/Voloshinov, signs are a reality that refracts another reality, that is, signs are ideological. Therefore, the embedding of a discourse in an interdiscourse is an ideological interpretation of the discourse.

  • a. She refers to other specific speeches in the parliament about the proposal.
  • b. She refers to a memorandum from her civil servants.
  • c. She refers to scientific reports supporting the proposal.
  • Angenot, Marc. Social Discourse Analysis: Outlines of a Research Project Yale Journal of Criticism, 2004, 17, Number 2, Fall 2004, pp. 199–215
  • Angenot, Marc. 1889. Un état du discours social. Éditions du Préambule, Montréal, 1989
  • Bahktin, M.M. (1986) Speech genres and other late Essays. University of Texas Press.
  • Bruce, Donald. (1995). De l'intertextuality à l'interdiscursivity. Toronto: Les Editions Paratexte.
  • Courtine, Jean-Jacques (1981) Analyse du discours politique (le discours communiste adressé aux chrétiens) Paris: Languages 1981, 5-128
  • Fairclough, Norman. (2003) Analysing Discourse - textual research for social research. New York: Routledge
  • Foucault, Michel (1969). L'archéologie du savoir. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Linell, Per (1998). Approaching Dialogue. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 1998.
  • Maingueneau, Dominique. (1991). L'analyse du discours. Paris: Hachette.
  • Voloshinov, V.N (1973) Marxism and the Philosophy of language. New York & London: Seminar Press


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