In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Positive Discourse Analysis

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Texts
  • Education and Literacy
  • Ecolinguistics
  • Media Discourse
  • Political Discourses
  • PDA for Communities and Social Action
  • Subaltern Linguistics and CREDIBLE approach

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Linguistics Positive Discourse Analysis
Aurelie Mallet, Ahmar Mahboob
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 June 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 June 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0306


Positive discourse analysis (PDA) falls under the broader umbrella of discourse analysis and privileges discourses that promote empowerment and social change. PDA is often viewed as a complementary approach to critical discourse analysis (CDA) which aims to expose hegemonic discourses and discourses of disempowerment. While CDA has been useful in bringing to light discriminatory discourse practices, it has been less reliable at providing the means to change such hegemonic practices. PDA on the other hand, not only promotes positive discourse, it also advocates for design and interventions that empowers people and brings about social change. Since being first coined in 2002, PDA has been employed in many linguistic subfields including media discourse, ecolinguistics, and educational linguistics. And more recently, PDA has been developed as a tool for community members to use to address issues in their local communities. The major theory underpinning PDA is Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). SFL provides a functional theory of how language is used in social context and models language according to its three general social functions: to represent experience, to enact social relationships, and to organize these experiences and social relationships. But first and foremost, SFL is concerned with redressing inequality. For this reason, SFL frameworks are often used in PDA studies, in text analyses, and in designing materials and interventions. This bibliography explores some of the main linguistics subfields where positive discourse analysis has taken ground over the past two decades. However, there are plenty of studies that would be considered PDA prior to its coinage as a methodological approach. Therefore, this bibliography presents a variety of studies that either explicitly use PDA as a methodological approach or others that have not necessarily employed the term PDA, but would nevertheless be considered PDA since they advocate for positive discourses, social change and empowerment.

Introductory Texts

Since positive discourse analysis (PDA) was only recently developed as a methodological approach to conducting discourse analysis and designing interventions, there are a few key readings useful to those wanting to learn about PDA. The first key reading is Martin 2002 which first coins PDA and introduces the need to move beyond analyses of hegemony and power and move toward creating texts to create social change. Bartlett 2017 provides an up-to-date overview of PDA research over the past ten to fifteen years and is a suitable introductory chapter for students interested in PDA research. In understanding PDA, it is also important to understand critical discourse analysis (CDA) and how PDA arose from CDA. Martin 2004 and Martin and White 2005 explain PDA as a complementary approach to CDA, and Bartlett 2012 goes one step further and explains the frameworks often used when conducting PDA research. Since Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is an underpinning theory of PDA, it is important to be familiar SFL and its frameworks. Halliday and Matthiessen 2013 provides a detailed introduction to SFL and is a resource for researchers. Martin and White 2005 and Eggins 2004 are suitable for students and those with little SFL knowledge, with the former providing a comprehensive account of the Appraisal framework often utilized in discourse analysis studies.

  • Bartlett, Tom. 2012. Hybrid voices and collaborative change: Contextualising Positive Discourse Analysis. New York: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203109373

    Frames a longitudinal study from a PDA perspective. The introduction explains PDA as a complementary approach arising from CDA.

  • Bartlett, Tom. 2017. Positive Discourse Analysis. In The Routledge handbook of critical discourse studies. Edited by John Flowerdew and John E. Richardson, 133–147. London and New York: Taylor and Francis.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315739342

    A general introduction to PDA, its origins and orientations, its most prominent subfields, and leaders in the field.

  • Eggins, S. 2004. An introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. 2d ed. London: Continuum.

    An accessible and student-friendly introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics.

  • Halliday, M. A. K., and C. Matthiessen. 2013. Halliday’s introduction to functional grammar. 4th ed. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203431269

    Provides a comprehension introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics, the theory underpinning PDA.

  • Martin, J. R. 2002. Blessed are the peacemakers: Reconciliation and evaluation. In Research and practice in professional discourse. Edited by C. Candlin, 187–223. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Univ. Press. International Systemic Functional Linguistics Association.

    PDA is first coined in this paper. Argues that more is needed beyond a critical perspective to tackle hegemony and power, instead advocating for texts that encourage reconciliation and empowerment.

  • Martin, J. R. 2004. Positive Discourse Analysis: Power, solidarity and change. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 49:179–202.

    A seminal paper detailing PDA and CDA. Explains how to select and analyze texts that can change the world.

  • Martin, J. R., and David Rose. 2007. Working with discourse: Meaning beyond the clause. London: Continuum.

    Chapter 9 introduces PDA as a means of balancing CDA by choosing and analyzing texts that focus on the good, so that others can learn from them to design interventions.

  • Martin, J. R., and P. R. R. White. 2005. The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230511910

    Introduces the SFL framework of Appraisal developed to analyze interpersonal meaning in language. Appraisal is often employed in PDA studies.

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