Swiss Summer School 2018


Véronique Mottier
Discourse Theory and Analysis

Note that this workshop was advertised earlier as "Qualitative Data Analysis: Interpretive Research Strategies" (only the title has changed).

Véronique Mottier

Véronique Mottier is Professor in Sociology at the University of Lausanne, and Director of Studies and Fellow in Social and Political Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge. She holds a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge, and BA and MA degrees from the University of Geneva. She has taught discourse analysis, social theory, and qualitative methodology at various institutions, including the Universities of Geneva, Cambridge, the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis and Collection, and the European University Institute in Florence. Her research interests include interpretative methodologies; Foucauldian discourse & narrative analysis; politics of sexuality and gender; modernity, 'race', and identity politics. She has published widely in these areas, and is currently writing a book on the history of French social theory for Harvard University Press.

For full list of publications, see:]

Workshop contents and objectives

The aim of this workshop is to explore the practical application of discourse theory to the analysis of textual data. There are many different versions of discourse analysis; this course focuses specifically on types of discourse analysis which are part of the wider family of interpretative methodologies. Interpretative methodologies are grounded in a social constructionist perspective on social life, reminding social scientists of the constructed nature of the social 'facts' that are studied. Against this backdrop, discourse analysis helps researchers to explore: constructions of meanings and identities through which individuals, groups, or organisations make sense of their everyday lives and interactions, and construct their social, organisational and political environments; meanings produced within policy-making or legal processes; mechanisms of social exclusion or inclusion within media debates or internet blogs, etc.

More precisely, the workshop will (1) examine key interpretative methodologies such as interactionism, ethnomethodology and hermeneutics, and examine how these perspectives translate into concrete research questions and frameworks for 'doing' discourse analysis and (2) explore the application of practical techniques of discourse analysis, focusing especially on textual materials (which can include media or internet materials, archival texts, personal diaries, policy and legal texts, organisational and management documents, activist discourses, scientific discourses, or interview transcripts).

Although the lectures, exercises and readings will also address wider methodological issues such as validity and reliability, the main emphasis of the workshop is on practical applications of discourse theory and analysis through daily exercises. Participants are welcome to bring their own data to the Summer School if they wish to do so, and will have a chance to discuss and work on their own research during the week.


Basic text/overview


No particular prerequisites are needed for this course, but you will be sent several preparatory texts to read a month before the summer school starts.

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EH Last update: 18.01.2018