Antaki et al.'s paper offers welcome illustrations of weaknesses that I recognise only too well within some contemporary (including student) purported discourse analyses. My comments here arise from a general sense of sympathy and agreement with their arguments, and are offered in the spirit of supplementing rather than supplanting them. I will therefore be drawing on, and then elaborating on, the framework provided by their paper to offer three more examples of forms of analysis that fail to fulfil claims to discursive analyses (or what Antaki et al. calls 'non-analyses').
Antaki et al. declare two reasons for highlighting these problems: firstly, to 'help those who approach DA enthusiastically, but in an environment where there is less support than there would be for more traditional methods of analysis, and so less opportunity to test and refine methods among sympathetic colleagues' (p.15); and second, 'to scotch the sort of errors that give comfort to the traditionally-minded who accuse DA of "anything goes"' (ibid.). While (as I will discuss later) there are many responses to the 'anything goes' argument (see also Burman, 1990, Burman, 1991, Burman, 1992), my previous attention to the 'errors' or shortcomings of novice engagements with discursive and qualitative research has focused on how these highlight with particular clarity ideological as well as conceptual and methodological features of the discipline, and contests within the discipline, that researchers new to the arena are labouring to join (Burman, 1996, Burman, 1997, Burman, 1998).
Like Antaki et al., my comments here are similarly offered to lend support to, as well as to strengthen the profile of, the wide range of analytic research that currently qualifies itself as discursive. As will become clear, my discussion diverges from that of Antaki et al. in suggesting, firstly, that they do not go far enough in identifying limitations of currently circulating forms of discourse analyses; secondly, that, paradoxically, the restrictions on the critical account they offer potentially work to proscribe forms of discourse analytic work that I would want to see supported; and thirdly and finally, that their argument bolsters a limited notion of discourse (as transcribed interview text) that unduly forecloses the political as well as analytic project of discursive research. I will start by revisiting the six problems identified by Antaki et al., and then move on to highlight three more that I would want to add. I should reiterate that I am fully in agreement with their desire to emphasise 'the analytic basis to discursive studies' (p.3). Indeed equivalent concerns motivate my account here.