New working paper of Jan Zienkowski

Mar 17, 2021

Jan Zienkowsi has written a new paper in the Collaborative Working Paper Series of DiscourseNet ( is external). He outlines a concept of propaganda for Critical Discourse Analysis.  

See the abstract and download the open access text file here : is external)

This paper asks whether and how the concept of propaganda can be understood and enriched for discourse studies (Oddo, 2018). The concept of propaganda has been seminal to media and communication studies and is regaining popularity in an age of social media where notions of ‘activism’ and ‘propaganda’ get problematized all over again (Benkler et al., 2018; Herman, 2000; Jowett & O’Donnell, 2015; Pedro-Carañana, Broudy, & Klaehn 2018). Traditionally, discourse scholars have preferred theories of ideology, hegemony and power over theories of ‘propaganda’ (Angermuller, Maingueneau, & Wodak, 2014; Wodak, 2013). In this paper I provide some historical, ideological, epistemological and ontological explanations for this situation. If the notion of propaganda is to be of added value to critical discourse studies, it has to be (re)conceptualized and (re)articulated with(in) existing discourse theories. Many discourse scholars have gone through great lengths to problematize intentional modes of communication and actor-centered approaches to meaning. If ‘propaganda’ is to make sense in CDS, its relation to discourse, reflexivity, ideology and/or hegemony therefore needs to be considered carefully. I will clarify this point by articulating the notion of propaganda with(in) Essex style discourse theory (Glynos and Howarth, 2007; Torfing, 1999). I argue for a notion of propaganda that refers to democratic and anti-democratic forms of discursive practice that aim to introduce, reproduce or change the articulatory practice(s) and discourse(s) of social groups or networks with some degree of reflexivity. I thus explore the challenges that ‘propaganda’ poses for thinking politics and the political in discourse studies.