«A Comparative Case Study of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland by Melanie Liese B.A. School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies ...»
Each society has its own regime of truth, its „general politics‟ of truth; that is, the types of discourses which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish between true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned, the techniques and procedures accorded value by the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true (Foucault 1980, in Plant 2001, p.103).
Derived from his concept of „truth‟ in society, Critical Discourse Analysts believe, that the application of certain linguistic features within a discourse are a matter of choice, “employed to maintain and reproduce the status quo” of a society, i.e. to uphold a society‟s „regime of truth‟ (Wodak, et al. 1999, p.8).
4.3 Thematic Discourse Analysis (TDA) Thematic Discourse Analysis can be understood as a derivative of CDA, which has been prominently applied in Education Studies in Germany and in particular in the area of Textbook Research. It is often referred to as Thematische Diskursanalyse or TDA.
Die TDA lässt sich in einer ersten Charakterisierung als theoriegeleitet, rekonstruktiv und empirisch kennzeichnen. Es geht dabei um die Rekonstruktion spezifischer semantisch-thematischer Grundstrukturen von diskursivem, d.h. sprachlich- zeichenhaftem Material, woraus sich das Attribut „thematisch„ [...] herleitet (Höhne 2004, p.389-390).
[TDA, in an initial characterisation, can be described as being informed by reconstructive and empirical theory. It is about the reconstruction of specific semantic-thematic frameworks of discursive, i.e. linguistic-emblematic material, from which the attribute can be „thematically‟ uncovered.] Accordingly, TDA allows researchers to reconstruct a thematic framework of a specific discourse as they uncover certain recurring attributes that shape the particular discourse.
As a derivative of CDA, TDA furthermore presumes “dass Diskurse primär thematisch gebunden sind” [that discourses are primarily linked thematically] (Höhne 2004, p.390) and therefore exhibit certain thematically linked characteristics, also called “Typizität” (ibid, p.391). Through the use of TDA, researchers seek to identify the “Typizität eines Diskurses bzw. die Regelhaftigkeit des Auftretens spezifischer Aussagen” [typicality of a discourse and the regularity of the occurrence of specific statements] (ibid, p.391).
In this context, Thematic Discourse Analysts emphasise that the attributes or characteristics, which construct a certain discourse, “sind von struktureller Ähnlichkeit im Sinne einer Paraphrase” [are of structural similarity in the sense of a
paraphrase] (Höhne, Kunz and Radtke 2005, p.29):
Es handelt sich also nicht um wörtliche Wiederholungen oder die Verwendung identischer Begriffe, sondern um strukturelle Ähnlichkeiten – etwa wenn im selben thematischen Diskurs in verschiedenen Wissensbereichen unterschiedliche Metaphern verwendet werden, die aber innerhalb des Diskurses jeweils die gleiche Funktion erfüllen (ibid, p.29).
[Thus, it is not a matter of literal repetition or the use of identical terms, but a matter of structural similarity – for instance when in the same thematic discourse in different academic areas, different metaphors are used, which, however, within the discourse achieve the same function.] According to Höhne, Kunz and Radtke (2005), who have carried out a major study entitled “Bilder von Fremden” [Pictures of Foreigners], which examines and analyses textbooks in order to establish what a typical student might learn about migrants from them, thematic discourse develops through two complementary methods.
Thematisierungsweisen beruhen zum einen auf bestimmte Differenzsetzungen, durch die in Form von Worten, Phrasen, Bildern, Sequencen usw. semantisch selegiert wird. Zum anderen werden spezifische Verknüpfungen in Form von Prädikationen oder Kopplungen hergestellt und fixiert (p.38, emphasis added).
[The manner by which a theme is created is, on the one hand, based on certain processes of differentiation, which are semantically selected in the form of words, phrases, illustrations, sequences, etc. On the other hand, specific connections are made and attached in the form of predications or links.] Borrowing from the study of Höhne, Kunz and Radtke (2005), an example of the processes of differentiation and predication is developed here: If a phrase “an Arab family lives in our street” were to appear in a German textbook, the adjective „Arab‟ differentiates this family from the families of the majority. Although they live in „our‟ street, they are different, i.e., not like us, they are „Arab‟. Through the process of differentiation here, a message is communicated that the „Arab‟ family does not really belong there. If this phrase is, for example, accompanied by a picture showing women wearing head scarves, another message is implied, namely that the „Arab family‟ mentioned in the phrase are also Muslims. The process of predication therefore connects the differentiating attribute „Arab‟ to the predicate of the „head scarf‟ in the image and reinforces the difference between the Arab family and the majority in Germany. If the same manner of differentiation and predication is used in a few instances within a specific discourse, a theme is created which in turn characterises that discourse.
The complementary interaction of the processes of differentiation and predication therefore allows for the analysis of texts as well as illustrations. The latter often reinforce a message given in a text.
4.4 The Approach Used in this Study 4.4.1 Background Having looked at CDA and Thematic Discourse it is now appropriate to look at the methodology of this study.
Drawing from the theories of both CDA and TDA, this study assumes that a certain discourse of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ is present at a macro level in society. It asks how this discourse is reflected at a micro level in texts and illustrations in primary school textbooks. Furthermore, this study takes into account the “ideological effect” of “discursive practices” (Fairclough and Wodak 1997, p.258). Thus, by examining the types of representations of the „other‟ in the selected textbooks, it can determine whether the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in the selected texts is portrayed as “unequal” in relation to the majority, for example, through the use of stereotypes or victimisation. In this study therefore, the textbook is not just seen as a medium for transferring the knowledge of a society from generation to generation but also as a means of conveying certain societal norms and views, be they in North RhineWestphalia or Ireland.
4.4.2 Methodological Approach of this Study
While CDA sets the field, TDA informs the methods used in this study. Aspects of TDA have been applied to identify certain attributes relating to the discourse of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in the selected German and Irish textbooks. The aim is to determine whether and in what specific ways the ethnic or cultural „other‟ is presented and to establish any differences and/ or similarities of representation between both contexts.
The definition of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ “umfasst nicht nur den subjektiven Glauben an die eigene Abstammungsgemeinschaft, sondern auch Differenzkonstruktionen, nach denen andere Menschen fremden ethnischen Gruppen mit entsprechenden kulturellen Merkmalen zugeordnet werden” [includes not just the subjective belief about one‟s own group of origin, but also the constructions of difference with which other people are attributed and assigned to foreign ethnic groups according to cultural characteristics] (Weber 2007, p.308). Therefore “the identification of the ethnic others is closely related to national frameworks, which allow for the distinction between “us” and “them” in the first place” (Schissler 2006).
For the purposes of this study, the “national framework” is the ethnic and cultural majority in each country, i.e., the German majority in North Rhine-Westphalia and the Irish majority in Ireland. The „other‟ is defined against this majority on the basis of ethnic and cultural difference, such as origin, skin colour, religion, language, traditions and customs.
Using the two processes of “Differenzsetzung” [process of differentiation] and “Prädikation” [predication] through which a thematic discourse develops (Höhne, Kunz and Radtke 2005, p.38), this study seeks to show how the ethnic and cultural „other‟ has been constructed, hence how a discourse on the ethnic and cultural „other‟ has been created, against the national majority in the textbooks of each case.
The process of differentiation constructs the „other‟ through the use of attributes which would be used for the majority. For example, in the sentence “Bei uns leben viele Türken.” [Many Turks live in our city], the plural noun “Turks” defines this particular group as being different, i.e., they are Turks and not Germans, while the possessive article “our” is understood to refer to the German majority. Often a text is accompanied by an illustration, for example, in the text “Tante Wilma riecht nach Knoblauch” [Aunt Wilma smells of Garlic] (Überall ist Lesezeit 4, pp.58-60 – see book). Here, the text repeatedly talks about “Türken” [Turks] and two illustrations above the text include a woman with headscarf (ibid, pp.59-60). A specific relationship through predication is established between the „Turks‟ in the text and the woman with the scarf, implying that the „Turks‟, mentioned in the text, are also Muslim. This concept is also reinforced through the following sentence: “Und es sind nicht einmal Christen!” [And they are not even Christians!] (p.59). Although it is not said that they are Muslims, an implied link has been established between the „Turks‟, who are not German and the woman with the head scarf, who is not Christian. As this representation repeatedly appears in texts a thematic discourse develops.
TDA is not just concerned with one medium of discourse, such as the textbook, but also investigates how established characteristics relate, affirm and correspond to the wider use of a specific discourse in various areas and indeed in a society (Höhne, Kunz and Radtke 2005, p.28). This has been partly realised in this study as the representation of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in education policies, such as the curricula of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) and Ireland have also been considered (see Chapter 3 Overview and Curricula).
Although this study will touch on the reflection of social reality, in terms of the presence of ethnic and cultural minorities in textbooks, it is beyond the scope of this work to examine this in its entirety. Furthermore, studies in Textbook Research often take into account the position of a text within the overall structure of the textbook or how much space within a book a certain subject receives in order to establish a possible imbalance of how topics are treated. However, as indicated, this piece of research is primarily concerned with the question of whether and how the „other‟ is presented. This study does not look at the discourse of the ethnic and cultural „other‟ in relation to other discourses, such as for example the discourses of Islam or Christianity, and this has therefore not been analysed here.
4.5 Corpus Selection 4.5.1 Selection of Textbooks for North Rhine-Westphalia In Germany, teaching material is regulated by the respective federal states. In the case of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung [the Ministry for School and Further Education] publishes a list of approved teaching resources on their website. All Lesebücher12 [textbooks for reading] and LeseSprachbücher [textbooks for reading that incorporate a focus on language] available for third and fourth grade for the school year 2007/ 2008 for the subject of German have been analysed on the basis of this list (see Bibliography, Ministerium für Schule und Weiterbildung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen 2008).
The textbooks examined for North Rhine-Westphalia mainly contain extracts from children‟s literature, short stories, didactical and informational texts as well as poems and songs. The content is partitioned into several chapters according to specific themes. Some textbooks incorporate grammatical and language exercises, as mentioned above, and are known as Lese-Sprachbücher.