Discourse, power & social change


Here we highlight one of the research strands within the Jyväskylä Discourse Hub (JDH) which explores discourse, power, and social change. The research in this strand is informed by a critical examination of the power relations, discourses, and practices that (re)construct social, political, economic, and linguistic boundaries which impact social inequality and social change. How, when, on what grounds, why, and by whom are these boundaries defended and challenged? The focus of this research strand is on discursive, ethnographic and situated analyses of the conditions and consequences related to the multiple constructions of language, ethnicity, gender, class, and (post-)national boundaries. The theoretical and methodological approaches used in this research strand include critical discourse analysis, nexus analysis, intersectionality, critical ethnography, and critical sociolinguistics.

Recent and ongoing research projects:

Cold rush: Dynamics of language and identity in expanding Arctic economic hotspots. (Academy of Finland, 2016-2020 – Sari Pietikäinen)

Peripheral Multilingualism: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography of Contestation and Innovation in Multilingual Minority Language Sites (Academy of Finland, 2011-2015, PI – Sari Pietikäinen)

Power play: Discourses of language, identity and mobility in a trans-atlantic hockey market (Department of Languages, University of Jyväskylä, 2015 – present, PI – Sari Pietikäinen).

Below we present a selection of the critical discourse research conducted by JDH members and a brief description of their past, on-going and future projects.

Sari Pietikäinen:

My earlier research examined discourse of ethnic and linguistic differentiation as well as empowering potential of minority and indigenous language media. My current research explores discourses, practices and experiences around the categories of speakers and language boundaries in transforming multilingual indigenous contexts. In the future, I will continue to examine the rhizome of boundaries, discourses and mobilities in spaces that matter both for identity projects and economic development, such as sports and cultural entrepreneurship.

More information on my research can be found here.

Sanna Lehtonen:

My earlier research investigated discourses of identity and power in children’s fantasy literature, focusing on intersections of gender and age but also touching upon sexuality, class, ethnicity and nationality. My continuing interest is in narratives that rewrite, challenge and question stereotypes and conventional representations of gendered identities and power structures. In my current research I have been interested in online, transnational fan cultures where fans, inspired by fictional narratives, negotiate and perform their gendered, aged and sexualised identities in creative ways through their fan practices. My future research will continue to explore how fans engage with fictional, multimodal narratives, such as fairy tale and fantasy games, and how this engagement contributes to their discursive and affective construction of intersectional identities in potentially empowering ways.

More information on my research can be found here.

Emanuel da Silva:

My earlier research examined struggles over symbolic and material capital based on nationalist and class-based ideologies of language and identity that (re)produced social difference and inequality among the Portuguese in Toronto (Canada). My current research explores the conditions and consequences of previously marginalized social actors capitalizing on their different cultural and linguistic resources through comedic, artistic, economic and political performances (in the transnational Lusophony, the Canadian francophonie, and Finnish Lapland). My future research will continue to interrogate the nexus of language, minorities, ethno-national identity, the economy, and public performance, including spaces like sport.

More information on my research can be found here.