Discourse Analysis (DA) video tutorial: Guidance notes

Discourse Analysis (DA) video tutorial: Guidance notes

 The following notes are designed to accompany the two video resources that can be found on YouTube at the following urls:

Tutorial video: The discourse analysis video tutorial with Sarah Riley and Sally Wiggins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYKuTHdFMPw    

Family Mealtime Video : The family mealtime video to accompany the tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtKaXw6WqYM

These videos were designed and produced in 2016 to provide a concrete example of how you might begin to analyse a section of video and transcript data, using two forms of discourse analysis. These forms are typically known as: Discursive Psychology (DP) and Foucauldian-inspired Discourse Analysis (FiDA or FDA, also called ‘poststructuralist discourse analysis’). See the recommended reading section below for book chapters that will introduce you to the theory and methods of these two approaches.

The aims of the videos are to:

  • provide a video resource for learning and teaching discourse analysis that could be used flexibly either in both formal teaching or for supporting independent study
  • demonstrate the practical stages of data analysis with a worked example
  • illustrate points of difference between forms of discourse analysis in terms of how they approach data analysis

We would also like to collect feedback on these resources; click here for a link to a survey about this.

Recommended reading

Forrester, M. (Ed.)(2008). Doing Qualitative Research in Psychology: A practical guide. London: Sage. See chapter 8 on Discourse Analysis …A second edition of this text (Sullivan & Forrester eds) is due to be published in 2017/18.

Wiggins, S. (2017). Discursive Psychology: Theory, Method and Applications. London: Sage. [see chapter 2 for a comparison of different forms of discourse analysis using the mealtime extract as an illustration]

The family mealtime recording

A family was recruited voluntarily to video-record one of their daily mealtimes for the purpose of this project, and full written consent was gained from each of the family members who took part in the mealtime.  All participants were over 18 years of age, and ethical approval was obtained from the University of Strathclyde for this recording.  Participants were advised from the outset that the data were being collected for the purpose of being made available online, and as a result their anonymity and confidentiality could not be maintained.  Consent was checked again with the family members once the four-minute section to be used in the video was identified.  The family members are as follows (all names are pseudonyms):

Bob: male, aged 54 years old.

Linda: female, aged 55 years old.

Lesley: female, aged 26 years old

Edith: female, aged 84 years old.

Bob and Linda are married, Lesley is their daughter (they also have a 23 year old son, not present during this meal), and Edith is Bob’s mother. The family lived in the west of Scotland at the time of the recording. The transcripts of the four-minute video can be found toward the end of this document.

How to use these video resources

The two videos were designed to be used together, though it is also appropriate to use the family mealtime as a sample piece of data for teaching and learning discourse analysis. In this section, we suggest possible ways in which the videos could be used to complement teaching and learning activities on discourse analysis. Note that these suggestions are not in any particular order, and could be used according to specific learning needs or interests.

  1. Working with video only. It can take some time to become familiar with a transcript (see also suggestion 2 below), so at first you might find it useful to just watch and listen to the mealtime video (Family Mealtime Video), and then to watch the tutorial (Tutorial Video) to see how discourse analysts might approach it. Alternatively, you might want to watch the tutorial first. Either way, focus on observing and listening to the interaction between the family members. What can you pick up by just watching it? What are the key issues that they talk about? How do they talk about them? How do they interact with each other? You could also consider what is missing from the Tutorial Video (e.g. other information about the family or the shops that they are referring to). What else might you want to know before analysing it?
  1. Familiarising yourself with transcripts: Watch the Family Mealtime video alongside the transcripts featured below. Focus on one transcript at a time, and familiarise yourself with that before moving onto the other one. Use this as a way to examine how transcription features work in practice, and to see how video data can ‘look’ when it is written out as a transcript. How do the two forms of discourse analysis differ in their use of transcription format and symbols? What advantages and disadvantages do you see to these different forms of transcription notation?
  1. Work step-by-step through the transcript. Choose either DP or FiDA and use the three questions used in the tutorial (Tutorial Video) for each approach (what, how, when for DP, or what, how, why for FiDA) as a guide while working through the video and accompanying transcript.


Discursive Psychology Foucauldian informed discourse analysis
What words are used and what social actions (e.g. complaining, describing, asking) are being performed? What reality is being constructed?
How are the words spoken? How is this reality being constructed?
When are things said? How does the interaction unfold, turn-by-turn in a particular way? Why say it? In terms of the:

Consequences for what they can say think and do; and the

Wider common and institutional sense making that enables this kind of talk.


Examine just a short section each time – a few lines of transcript is enough to get started – and see how the three guiding questions could be applied to the data.  Your aim here should be to see if you can apply the principles in practice: to examine the data using either the DP or FiDA approach.

  1. Comparing DP and FiDA. One of the aims of this video resource is to show more clearly how these different forms of discourse analysis approach a piece of data. For DP, the focus is on how psychological issues or concepts (such as identity, accountability and emotions) are constructed and used to perform social actions (such as making a complaint, complimenting someone or asking for help). For FiDA, the focus is on discourses (and how they construct reality), subject positions (identities), and consequences for subjectivity and practice (how we think about ourselves and what we can do). Watch through the Tutorial Video again, and consider how DP and FiDA are used to interpret the mealtime conversation. What would researchers using these different approaches focus on and why? What assumptions are made by each approach (e.g., in terms of how we interpret talk and how we attribute ‘meanings’ to language)? How might the same piece of data (e.g. Family Mealtime Video) be understood in different ways?
  1. The issue of context. In the Family Mealtime Video, all you have is a four-minute section of a mealtime conversation with four adults (from the same family). The only other information you have been given is their ages, genders, how they are related to each other, and broadly where they live. These kinds of details are often what are referred to as ‘context’ or ‘contextual information’: information about the context of this particular social interaction. Different forms of discourse analysis argue for different kinds of context to be made relevant for the analysis. How do DP and FiDA make certain features of context relevant in the mealtime conversation? What other features or information might you want to know before making any interpretations of the data? How do we know whether such contextual information is important or relevant? For further reading on this ‘context debate’ see:

Billig, M. (1999). Whose terms? Whose ordinariness? Rhetoric and ideology in conversation analysis. Discourse & Society, 10: 543-558.

Schegloff, E. (1997). Whose text? Whose context? Discourse & Society, 8: 165-187.

Wetherell, M. (1998). Positioning and interpretative repertoires: Conversation analysis and post-structuralism in dialogue. Discourse & Society, 9: 387-412.



Use the following transcripts with the family mealtime video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtKaXw6WqYM


Extract 1: Transcript for Foucauldian-inspired Discourse Analysis

Daughter I’ll be, when I contribute I will be inputting in mah demands for my food
Dad oh!
Gran oh my (.) oh my
Dad listen
Mum she was trying to put demands in the other day, because I had gone to Mindletons and brought prawns (.)
Daughter they were bowfin! [disgusting/smelly]
Mum and she went “these are dry, I’ve told you, don’t buy Mindletons”, and I said “see when you contribute (.) you can say to me where I can go to buy”
Dad no don’t bother (.) listen, you just contribute, you get no choice, the same way as I contribute and I get no choice (.) you er (.) unless you get the messages [shopping] then you can go buy
Mum I says [that’s where the
Daughter           [I will, I like going shopping
Mum [to the dad] that’s where they were cheaper (.) that’s where I bought them
Gran: [overlapping, to the daughter] ah but you need to pay with your own money (.) [inaudible]



no I’ll give it to Dad and then I’ll just take Mum’s bank card and I’ll go shopping [smiles smugly/jokingly]


Mum: [looks at daughter] uh uhm [disagreement sound]
Gran: no
Daughter: yeah (.) scuse me I probably spend less than when you go shopping (.) I’m a thrifty shopper
Dad: Exactly (.)
Mum: so am I. I go to Adols now you wouldn’t go to Adols
Daughter only because you slip on the floor in there (.) dangerous
Dad: [inaudible]
Mum: what?
Daughter: everytime I’m in there I slip on the floors (.) its floury (.) [turning to Gran] never guess what happened in there now Gran
Gran:                                                                                                   [There’s a [clears throat] there’s a, I was reading about somebody (.) and they lived in a mansion down in London, who were they (.) oh what’s her name (..) well known [looks at Dad] (..) Patsy
Dad: Patsy Kensit [inaudible]
Gran: big mansion
Dad: yeah
Gran: and she was in (.) er one of those things that run for a long while on the television↑
Dad: she was in Coronation street=
Daughter: =and she was in Holby City
Gran: that was the one (.) and after she came out of there (.) and she hadnae the same work (..) and that’s what she’s done. She’s actually, [downgraded
Mum:                                                                                               [gone downhill
Gran: her house (.)
Dad: U huh
Gran: that she lived in and she says she’s happier now (.) plus the fact she goes shopping in the ones that you’re talking about. She goes to Adol, she goes to Mindletons, she goes to (.)
Dad: uh huh
Gran: I forget the other one (.) a lot cheaper and she says ‘”I’m far happier”
Dad: yeah


Transcription key for FiDA

CAPITALS = louder voice

Underline = emphasised speech

arrow keys = rising/falling intonation; alternatively intonation is not transcribed other than when a ‘?’ question mark for rising intonation in the form of a question

! exclamation mark signals exclamation

“don’t go” speech marks for direct speech


(.) = pause less than a second

(..) = pause more than a second, for long pauses the length to the nearest second can  also be given e.g. (2).

= Equal sign represents latched talk (no gap between turn)

, comma signifies tone closure, but continuous talk

. full stop signifies tone closure, like the end of a sentence

[ square bracket between turns represents speech overlapping

[square brackets] contain other useful information such as non-verbal information e.g. [laughter], aspect of the transcription e.g [inaudible], or information about the meaning of the words e.g. [colloquial word for smelly].

Note that the above notation is an example of FiDA transcription notation. FiDA typically uses less transcription notation than DP; it also has a less formalised agreement for transcription than DP, thus transcription notation can differ across published FiDA work. FiDA analyses that are more focused on the practices of talk such as those using a synthesised approach, combining different forms of DA, would therefore borrow from the more detailed DP notation presented below. See for example

Riley, S.C.E., Thompson, J. & Griffin, C. (2010). Turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out: The impact of neo-liberalism on magic mushroom users (in)ability to imagine collectivist social worlds. International Journal of Drug Policy, 21, 445–451

Also note that the terms ‘daughter’, ‘father’ etc. were used here to highlight the relationships between the participants. Depending on the type of FiDA being done, this might be relevant as it highlights the institutional aspects of the interaction, in this case of the family. But another FiDA researcher may have used their names (as in the transcript below), which would have emphasised their individuality. Decisions as to what to call participants are thus part of the interpretative activities of discourse analyst researchers.


Extract 2: Transcript for Discursive Psychology

(Starts at 00:08 in Family Mealtime Video)


Lesley:   yours is fat.

Bob:      mine’s is >quite a lot a’<


Bob:      I don’t like steak.

Lesley:   no: [don’t do either

Bob:          [.pt >doesna< (.) doesna fire >my rockets it

just disnae<

Lesley:   I like ¯fish:=we >­never have enough< fish:

Bob:      w- we:ll. see that fish you bu::y, (0.4)

<­don’t buy that> see that thing that gets like-

(.) incarcerated in some kin’a-


<chemically:> (0.2) compound (.) >¯thing<

Edith:    mm


Bob:      ­THA- (.) you get it like- >it doesn’t look like a

fish that ­thing we had the other night<

Edith:    (no we didn’t)

Bob:      [(see come fo-)

Lesley:  [that battered thing (.) no I don’t like battered

fish I mean [proper-

Bob:                  [process-

Lesley:   I [mean proper fish.

Linda:       [((clears throat)) plaice


Bob:      it wasnae (.) >[it didna<

Linda:                   [it ­was plaice

Bob:      ah- (.) listen. (.) plaice-

Linda:    it was plaice out of Moors and ¯Shawlands.

Lesley:  it [was really bad

Bob:         [it was horrendous

Lesley:  yeah but- I’m not talking about (.) battered


Bob:      we were-

Lesley:  I’m talking about <fresh fish>

Bob:      that’s- fresh (.) >°fresh (0.2) fresh ¯fresh°<

Lesley:  why do we never have some sea bream or sea bass:

(0.4) or some tuna steak


Linda:    mm- (0.4) [°(there’s some) in the fridge°

Bob:                 [ah hah

Bob:      listen,

Lesley:   when I cont[ribute I-

Bob:                 [everything’s- everything’s

[>out of a tin in this house<

Lesley:  [I’ll- (.) I’ll-

Lesley:   I’ll be [a- I’ll be-

Linda:            [ah- [no its not

Bob:                   [hh heh: HA HA hah::

Lesley:  I’ll be- <when I contribute> I will be (.) inputting

in mah demands for my food

Bob:      h- hoh

Edith:    oh m(h)y (.) ­o(h) m(h)y

Bob:      listen-

Linda:    she was trying to put demands in the other day:

(0.4) because: I had gone to Mindletons and

bought prawns,

Lesley:  >they were< bowfin’

Linda:    and she went (.) ‘these are dry. I’ve told you,

Lesley:  >they are [dry<

Linda:              [don’t buy Mindletons’ and I said

‘­see when you contri­bute,’ (0.6) you say to me

where I can go to buy

Bob:      ­no don’t ­bother (0.4) listen >you just contribute you

get no choice< the same as I contribute and get

[no choice.

Lesley:   [no:

Edith:    °yeh°

Bob:      you- (.) unless you go the messages: then you

can go bu:y.

Linda:   I says [that’s where the-

Lesley:          [I ­will I like going shopping

Linda:    that’s where they were ­cheaper: (0.2)

[that’s where I ¯bought them

Edith:    [ah but you need to pay with your own money

(0.4) (be) fair

Lesley:  no I’ll give it to Da:d and then I’ll just take

Mum’s bank card and then go shoppin’

Bob:      [heh:

Linda:    [mm mm:

Edith:    no:,

Lesley:  yea:h- ­‘scuse me I probably spend less than

when ­you go ­shopping (0.4) I’m a thri:fty


Bob:      exactly

(0.6) ((Bob looks to Linda))

Linda:    so am I:

Lesley:  like-

Linda:    I go to Adol’s now you wouldn’t go to Adol’s

Lesley:  only because you slip on the floor in there (.)


Linda:    what-

Lesley:  everytime I’m in there I slip on the floors (.)

its flour:y (0.6) never guess what happened in

[there now Gran

Edith:    [mind you- (.) there’s a- ((coughs)) there’s a-

>I was reading about some’dy< (.) and they

lived in a man:sion (0.2) doon in London ah

((clears throat)) >thingamy< .pt oh what’s her name


Lesley:  ((quiet sniff))

Edith:    well known,


Edith:    Patsy (0.6) k- [k-

Bob:                     [Patsy Kensit

Lesley:                  [Kensit

Edith:    ((points at Bob))

Linda:    mm hm

Edith:    big man:sion

Bob:      yeah

Linda:    >mm hm<

Edith:    and she was in, (0.8) eh: (0.4) >one of the things<

that run for a- (.) long while on the tele­vision

Bob:      she was in Coronation Street.=

Lesley:  =and she was in Holby City

Linda:    mm

Edith:    that was the one (0.6) an’ after she came out of

the:re: (0.2) she hadnae the same work,


Edith:    and that’s- that’s what she’s done (0.4) she’s

actually [(0.4) downgraded,

Linda:             [gone downhill

Bob:      >uh huh<

Linda:    mm hm

Edith:    her ­house:

Bob:      >uh huh<

Linda:    mm [hm

Edith:       [that she lived in and she says she’s

happier no:w, (0.4) plus the fac:t (.) she goes

sho:pping (0.2) in the ones that you’re talking about

she goes to Adol­, she goes to Mindletons, she

goes to-


Bob:      uh [huh

Edith:       [forget >th’ other one< (.) a lot cheaper she says

(.) <and I’m fa:r happier>


Transcription key for DP


.                                   A full stop indicates slight falling or final pitch; not used grammatically.

(.)                                A dot in brackets indicates a pause of less than two tenths of a second.

(0.2)                          Numbers in brackets refer to pauses in tenths of a second.

=                                  Equals sign indicates latched talk, where there is no gap between speech.

.pt                              Lip-smack sound

Fa:r                            Colons within or at the end of words indicate stretched-out speech; the more   colons, the longer the stretch.

­¯                            Upward or downward arrows indicate rising or falling pitch

?                                  Question mark indicates questioning (slightly rising) pitch

[   ]                              Square brackets indicate overlapping speech

Underline              Words or parts of words that are underlined indicate emphasised speech

> <                              Greater than signs enclose speech which is noticeably faster than the  surrounding talk

< >                              Less than signs enclose speech which is noticeably slower than the surrounding   talk (i.e. the reverse of above).

((words))                Italicised words in double parentheses provide some information about other  features of the video, such as non-verbal actions, or words that are unclear and unable to be transcribed accurately



Feedback of your experiences in using this video resource is essential to the development of this project. Please take time to reflect on the provided support materials, and follow this URL to take part in our brief survey of the effectiveness of this DA resource:


The survey will take around 10 minutes to complete and responses will be completely anonymous. There will also be an opportunity for you to provide your own comments at the end of the questions, should you wish to do so. We hope this has been a positive learning experience, and we thank you for your time taken to provide us with feedback.


These resources were produced with thanks to:

  • Aberystwyth University Learning and Teaching Enhancement Fund for their funding of this project.
  • Adam Teighe for videoing the tutorial
  • Heledd Jones for assistance in editing the tutorial video
  • Ryan Kelly, Amalina Haji Suhaili and Alun Trussler for their help in conducting focus groups and gaining student feedback
  • Undergraduate and Masters students at Aberystwyth and Strathclyde universities for suggestions about the content of video resources
  • Robert McQuade for his help in gathering feedback on the resources and his overall support of the project
  • Colleagues in the Teaching Qualitative Psychology group and Qualitative Methods in Psychology (British Psychology Society subsection) for their support
  • The family members who kindly video-recorded their mealtime to provide us with something to analyse in the first place.