Professional Prospects for Discourse Analysts


As yet, there are few professions that explicitly require a (graduate) degree in Discourse Studies (DS). However, both in research, as well as in the practice of many disciplines and professions, detailed qualitative analysis of text and talk is increasingly being required, for instance in journalism, communication and press departments, publishing, consultancy, education, and so on.

At the moment, specialist in DS have their main role in research- for example in preparing a thesis for an MA PhD degree: In almost all research in the social sciences and humanities, data are (also) texts, speeches, documents, interviews, life stories, websites, etc, that need explicit and systematic analysis. DS provides theoretical frameworks and methodological guidelines for such analysis - an analysis that goes beyond traditional methods in the social sciences, such as content analysis or 'frame analysis'.

The role of DS and its methods is not limited to research. Multidisciplinary DS has been applied in the analysis of many problems and social fields, for example in education (textbooks, interaction in the classroom), media (such as the representation of immigration or terrorism; the popularization of science), politics (parliamentary debates, propaganda, etc.), health (information for patients), and many other areas.

So far there are no consultancies specialized in discourse studies. It is however likely that the need for detailed, qualitative analysis of public discourse of various kinds, may lead to the need for such consultancies, which may provide services to politicians, political parties, companies and organizations seeking to know how they are represented in public discourse, who to adapt their own public discourse to different contexts and audiences, how to write socially appropriate reports, handbooks and textbooks, and so.

Critical Discourse Studies (CDS), focussing on the role of discourse in the reproduction of power abuse and social inequality, has widely contributed to the struggle against racism, sexism, and other forms of domination, e.g. by NGO's and social movements.

It may be expected that given the growing prominence of DS in most of the humanities and social sciences, soon knowledge and expertise in DS may become a requirement for many jobs in the fields mentioned above, especially when combined with a undergraduate degree in one of the traditional disciplines of the social sciences.

The pervasiness of discourse in society is such that thorough insight in its structures, functions, conditions and consequeces will undoubtedly be a core requirement for many professions in the future.