Applications of the Critical Analysis of Discourse in Urban Research

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD Candidate, Faculty of Architecture & Urban Planning, Tehran University of Art

2 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture & Urban Planning, Tehran University of Art


Among qualitative research methods, interpretive language-based methods can widely be used for understanding and explaining urban social dynamics and facilitate in-depth, critical looks into urban environments. Yet, planning scholars’ applications of these types of qualitative methods has not been as widespread as those of quantitative methods. Despite the fundamental role of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a qualitative method in urban studies, there is a dearth of literature using this method. In response, the present study tries to demonstrate potential applications of the critical discourse analysis in urban studies by describing its process through an analysis of a case: the petition by Yazd Bazaar business people against Qiam Street reorganisation plans. To do this, and following a review of theories and main concepts of this method, Fairclough’s analytic framework is recognised suitable for analysing phenomena and social orders, particularly the ways in which power is manifested in the use of language. The introduction of Fairclough’s three-tier model in this paper is accompanied by the analysis of the production, distribution and consumption of the petition’s text by shop owners, the description of the text itself, and the explanation of the social context of this communicative event. The results show that CDA can be beneficial in analysing a) power relations in urban planning and development processes, b) recognizing their structural ideologies and its socio-political consequences in cities and urban planning, c) understanding dominant, competing discourses in development processes, and d) understanding the transformation or reproduction of social and cultural structures.


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