Contesting international trade agreements: argumentation patterning in embedded discourses


This chapter looks at the ideological positioning and argumentation patterning of three sets of interrelated data, which can be considered vertically organized in a hierarchical configuration: these sub-corpora consist of the drafts of a major International Trade Agreement, the TiSA, (Trade in Services Agreement), a series of revelations and exposures authored by WikiLeaks, and a collection of online publications produced by the campaigning group, Friends of the Earth International. The objective is to identify how a process of ‘entextualization’ is realized through the various discourses – from the normative codification of legislation, on to the detailed specialist exposition and critique from legal experts, and over to the affectively-charged discourse of resistance and protest in the public domain. The conceptual and explanatory frameworks for the analysis derive from two disciplinary fields, argumentative studies and discourse analysis, where the role of language studies in describing discursive construal has traditionally played rather different roles. The analysis of the corpus starts from a linguistic perspective, comparing and contrasting semantic profiling, topicalization, and verb usage over the three sub-corpora. Using accounts of argumentative structure and procedures – elaborating the notions of schema, frames, moves and strategies, it is possible to identify distinctive patterns of reasoning, revealed through linguistic indexicality. In this way, argumentation can be related to the three varying communicative contexts, their authorship, audiences and rhetorical purposes. This study is, therefore, an attempt to integrate the two fields of argumentation studies and discourse analysis more systematically, recognizing the mutual benefits this carries for both, providing a body of empirical evidence necessary to further theoretical models and theories of argumentation, on the one hand, while extending discourse analysis into more challenging areas of investigation and taking a wider textual perspective than has often been common to date.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v42p23

Keywords: argumentation; discourse analysis; ideology; entextualization; international trade agreements; campaigning discourse


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