2. Contextual Questions

The first problem they discuss is where a summary or descriptive account of the transcript seems to be offered as a substitute for an analysis. Antaki et al. suggest that this approach 'will lose information and add none' (p.8), including being 'likely to lose the detail and discursive subtlety of the original' (ibid.). Whilst in full agreement with the specific examples of this they provide (of how the summary strips away important cues provided by the ordering of the account and paralinguistic features included within the transcription conventions), two further points might be added.
Firstly such 'summarising' might also inadvertently work to decontextualise the analyst's own account. Not only would this be to return its claims to those more familiar parameters of positivist and objectivist psychological research. It would also thereby be masking the political position adopted by the commentator in her or his framing of the account. I will return to this point shortly in relation to the second 'non-analytic' strategy Antaki et al. discuss. On their first point, though, there is a further issue, which is: where is the analysis of the analytic framework? Any analysis (discursive or otherwise) has to be undertaken in relation to a declared set of theoretical presuppositions as well as specific questions generated in relation to these, which provide the basis on which the analysis can be evaluated. Any 'summary' proffering decontextualised truth claims simply bolsters common sense or, worse still, expert (for example, 'psychological') knowledge. While Antaki et al.'s transcript, and discussion of transcript conventions, offers some useful examples and techniques, they too assume an analytic framework that is not declared.
The second form of 'non-analysis' characterised by Antaki et al. is where the analyst's opinions or political commitments substitute for the analysis. This is said to 'lead to the sort of simplification that is the antithesis of analysis …produc[ing] a flattening of the discursive complexity, as the analyst selects quotations for the rhetorical effect of appealing to the readers as co-sympathises or co-scolders' (p.10). This recognisable weakness is particularly worthwhile to point out. Here, though, I would want to add two further points, the first of which is that it can also be a problem to presume that one can avoid 'taking sides' or engaging in strategies of 'enlistment' (p.8): both through the form of the analytic framework that is adopted, as well as through the form of language in which the analysis is presented. Whilst clearly (now claiming my own 'expert' status!), as I have indicated elsewhere (Burman, 1991, Burman, 1997 and Burman, 1998) reflexive analysis does not substitute for analysis, nevertheless the 'solidarity/hostility' or 'sympathy/scolding' dichotomies noted by Antaki et al. (on p.9) are inevitably to some extent present within the analytic account - albeit that, as feminist analyses have indicated, our malestream academic trainings have perhaps schooled us into failing to recognise lack of commitment as a subjective position (c.f. Henwood et al., 1998; Hollway 1989). Objectivity is not the absence of subjectivity but a particular form of it. Put simply, there is no way of avoiding adopting some kind of position. The question therefore is rather which, and on what grounds this is evaluated.
Secondly, just as we may show an inappropriate 'solidarity' or 'sympathy' (or indeed presuming the transparency of the account by claiming access to 'feelings', 'beliefs' or 'views') by (in Antaki et al.'s examples on p.9) discussing how a speaker 'realises' or 'appreciates', sometimes the language of 'stating', 'claiming' or 'goes on to speak about' which are less 'value-laden' descriptions that we are familiar with in discursive work - as labelling speech acts rather than intentional states - also produces 'rhetorical effects'. But these 'effects' are of an ironizing character that in some ways - especially to those new to discourse analysis and so importing their everyday language practices - appears to devalue the speaker's account because it implies that something else is being manifested through it. Now this of course illustrates some of the humanist objections to discursive work that in my view are usually misplaced and arise from a mis-conceptualisation of the purpose of discourse work - which is not to focus on individuals but rather the cultural frameworks of meaning that they reproduce. However, my point here is that we need to take seriously how the tools of our own discursive practice inevitably speak of their own assumptions, and failure to attend to these can lead us back towards precisely the kinds of decontextualised and objectivist claims to knowledge that discourse work in psychology was formulated to critique (cf. Burman and Parker, 1993; Burman et al, 1996; Parker, 2002).
Finally, while Antaki et al. take pains to point out their recognition of a diversity of positions among discursive researchers as to the desirability of taking sides, my arguments here would invite a further qualification that 'enlistment' is not in itself a problem, and that 'taking sides' is not the same as under-analysis. Whilst all analyses require the kind of detailed examination indicated by Antaki et al., it could further be argued that under-analysis occurs when the analysis substitutes detailed examination of the text for the adoption of a theorised position.

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