Ongoing Reflections – Entry 16


By now, I’ve been able to analyse paragraph 10 from the Ridván 2010 message by the Universal House of Justice using the tools proposed by J.P. Gee, the seven building tasks (Gee, 2005, p. 10). This was submitted for Professor Portante in June 2010 and is available here By that time, I’ve had no clear answer, as to whether it was appropriate and useful to analyse Bahá’í Writings. Then I started to read Norman Fairclough.

Critical social research begins from questions such as these: how do existing societies provide people with the possibilities and resources for rich and fulfilling lives, how on the other hand do they deny people these possibilities and resources? What is it about existing societies that produce poverty, deprivation, misery, and insecurity in people’s lives? What possibilities are there for social change which would reduce these problems and enhance the quality of the lives of human beings? The aim of critical social research is better understanding of how societies work and produce both beneficial and detrimental effects, and of how the detrimental effects can be mitigated if not eliminated (Fairclough, 2003, pp. 202-203)

This was a release for me and a confirmation that it might well be beneficial, useful and productive to analyse Bahá’í discourse with the aim to understand better ‘how societies work and produce both beneficial and detrimental effects’. This I hope to do for the ma thesis in Luxembourg. Already a number of interviews have been collected by participants at a weekend on ‘non-violent communication within the family’ with a focus on the Ridván message, why they attended this ‘Bahá’í’ event and how they are ‘actors’ in their community, at their workplace?

…the language element has in certain key respects become more salient, more important than it used to be, and in fact a crucial aspect of the social transformations which are going on – one cannot make sense of them without thinking about language (Fairclough, 2003, p. 203).

This got me excited and hoping to find what research has been done, analysing Bahá’í discourse. And while doing a search on ‘critical discourse analysis Bahá’í’, I found: Search for Values: Ethics in Bahá’í Thought, reviewed by Dr. Ian Palin. While uncertain whether any articles may be relevant to my interest, I’m glad to catch up with an old friend and avid reviewer who might be able to help me in my search.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. Routledge.

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