Van Dijk's Critical Discourse Analysis

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Theoretical Framework
Van Dijk (1993) in his work, on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), defines power as control. According to him, some groups may have more or less power over others. The privileged groups have complete access to resources, for instance, fame, money, knowledge, information, status and are able to shape the discourses prevalent in the society. It is evident from his work, that power is not absolute. Powerful parties may control others, in specific situations and circumstances, not giving them a chance to participate in the discourse of power. The ruled group might find this control ‘natural’ and comply with it, not resisting the power of the elite. The parties that have the upper hand, have the ability to control people’s
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The three-dimensional theory of power gives power three different faces; decision-making power, agenda setting power and ideological power. The decision-making power implies that those who can make decisions have power, and those who cannot make decision do not have power. In other words, A exercises his power over B in such a way that B does things which it would not have done, had it not been for A. The agenda-setting power (non decision-making power), gives a certain party, a control to limit and set the agendas to be discussed on a particular forum. This gives a power to render certain issues intolerable to be argued upon. The ideological power is the most important dimension, which enables the one in control to influence peoples’ desires; making them do and want things that are harmful for them.
The notion of the third face of power has been derived, partly, from Marxist school of thought; who holds up the ideas of pervasive power of ideology, norms, beliefs and values in reproducing class relations and hiding contradictions; as discussed in Heywood’s work (Heywood, 1994). Marx not only acknowledged the fact the only driver behind capitalism was not economic exploitation, but also understood the very idea that ruling class helped in reinforcing the system which lead to the famous concern of false consciousness and its power to keep the working
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Gramsci viewed the capitalist state to be made up of two overlapping spheres, a ‘political society’ (which governs its power and rules through force) and a ‘civil society’ (which exercises its power and rules through consent). According to him, the civil society was such a public sphere where political parties and trade unions acquired concessions from the bourgeois state, and in which certain ideas and beliefs were formed, where bourgeois ‘hegemony’ was reproduced in cultural life through the media and other institutions, to ‘manufacture consent’ and legitimacy (Gramsci, 1971).
In pragmatic terms, his notion and view of how power gains shape in the realm of ideas and knowledge – expressed through consent rather than force – has stimulated the use of explicit tactics to challenge hegemonic norms of legitimacy. The idea of power as hegemony has also given a new look to the civil society which is a sphere of invariable struggle and contest against such oppressive norms; challenging customs, traditions and consequently articulating new notions and

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