Elements of Critical Context Studies

Document Type: Research Article


Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain


In this paper, it is argued that Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) should be extended to also include what may be called Critical Context Studies (CCS). After a summary of the new theory of context, defined in terms of special mental models in episodic memory, subjectively representing the ‘definition of the communicative situation’ by the participants, it is argued how a critical analysis of text-context relationships is fundamental for CDS. The focus of CDS on power and domination presupposes the relevance of the ways social contexts are defined by the participants, and how such social context may influence text and talk. This theoretical paper is illustrated by a detailed analysis of fragments from a debate of 2004 held in the British House of Commons on the Hutton Report, which deals with the aftermath of the media coverage of the war in Iraq.