This paper seeks to advance the position that discourse analysis holds a valid claim in becoming Contemporary Social Psychology's principal paradigm. This position is supported by two main arguments that shall be discussed in this paper. To begin with, the development and usage of discourse analysis through the years has been effectively responsive to valid objections against discourse imperialism, thereby ushering discourse analysis' successful integration into the field of social psychology. Secondly, it is argued that a comparison of contending research paradigms in social psychology will place discourse analysis as the most practicable and productive paradigm for research in Contemporary Social Psychology.
A discussion of discourse analysis' position in social psychology must first examine the paradigm itself and how it is defined. As a research paradigm in social psychology, discourse analysis emphasizes the role of language and action in the understanding of social behavior. In its earlier stages, it "drew attention to the importance of meaning and the accounts people gave of their actions."(Parker, 1990) Potter et al (1993) have also constructed a definition of discourse analysis as a "theory of, and method of studying, social practices and the actions that constitute them," thereby expanding its scope beyond the study of textual expression. It has also been described as a "noncognitive, functional approach to the analysis of talk and text."(Beattie & Doherty, 1995) As a research paradigm, discourse analysis and the range of work which fall under it has been quite elusive to the construction of strict definitions because it is "used in a more encompassing fashion to refer to large bodies of diverse work." (Potter, 1990) Different researches which claimed to employ the paradigm have been vastly diverse, with subtle theoretical and methodological differences in their application of the paradigm.(Potter, 1990) Parker and Burman (1993), in their review of selected discourse analytic research, however, point out the presence of a common thread which unite these diverse researches:
"What the different theoretical models used by the contributors to this book share is a common concern with the ways language produces and constrains meaning, where meaning does, or does not only, reside within individuals' heads, and where social conditions give rise to the forms of talk available.. discourse analysis offers a social account of subjectivity by attending to the linguistic resources by which the sociopolitical realm is produced and reproduced." (Burman & Parker, 1993, p.3)
The unifying bond between varying approaches to the paradigm of discourse analysis, therefore, lies in how such approaches are all geared towards the interpretation and study of discourse under the theory that discourses reveal an account of both individual and social biases, constructs, and conditions. Apart from the role of discourse in revealing inner and social conditions, much of discourse analyti