Volume 15, Issue 2 (2024)                   LRR 2024, 15(2): 251-284 | Back to browse issues page

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Rajabi M, Aghaei K, Danyali A. A Critical Discourse Analysis of Prospect & Vision Series English Language Textbooks as Framed in Foucauldian Reading on Ageism. LRR 2024; 15 (2) :251-284
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-30359-en.html
1- Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities & Physical Education, Gonbad Kavous University, Gonbad Kavous, Iran
2- Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Humanities & Physical Education, Gonbad Kavous University, Gonbad Kavous, Iran , aghaei.khadijeh@gmail.com
3- Assistant Professor, Department of Theology, Faculty of Humanities & Physical Education, Gonbad Kavous University, Gonbad Kavous, Iran
Abstract:   (2498 Views)
One rich educational trait in Iranian culture is to respect the aged ones and keep their dignity, enjoying their lived experiences. Here, the concept of age is defined as an identity representation with a positive connotation which signifies enriching experience / knowledge. In keeping with, the main objective of the present study was to disclose how ageism as a social-ideological construct not a biological concept has been represented in English language schooling textbooks. Theoretically framed in Laclau and Muffe Critical Discourse Analysis based on Foucauldian reading, the current study was to do a content analysis of English language textbooks in Iranian junior and senior secondary schooling systems (Prospect and Vision series). The researchers extracted the dominant discourses represented in the exercises, images and contents of the textbooks based on frequency and the related categories. Findings spelled out a kind of “otherness” represented a kind of “otherising” discourse in the textbooks. The elders were represented in three aspects of “absentism” “a negative issue” or “token construct”.  Indeed, when present, they were also misrepresented as sick or disabled ones or persons with token /socially passive role. They did not enjoy a dominant discourse and the youth were the subject of the discourses. Curriculum developers are thus needed to revisit their readings on ageism construct to provide a positive definition on it, framing educational justice demanded in Fundamental Reform Document and its Islamic-Iranian ethos.  
1. Introduction
This article employs a Foucauldian lens to critically analyze the discourse of English language teaching materials in junior and senior high school, particularly the Prospect and Vision series. These materials are developed within the framework of the fundamental reform document in education, with a specific focus on transforming English language instruction in schools. The cornerstone of this analysis lies in fostering equity-based relationships and dialogues among social subjects, defined as an educational mission in educational reform. Specifically, the promotion of social inclusivity are highlighted as fundamental goals of the educational transformation system.
 The integration of language learning and social inclusivity, rooted in the recognition of various social identities, underscores the significance of this approach. Within this context, the delicate situation of the elderly accentuates the imperative need to pay heightened attention to this demographic identity. This approach holds profound significance from two perspectives. Firstly, it underscores the importance of examining how the content of these books can encourage greater inclusivity among the elderly and promote their participation in public spaces, consequently transforming them into active agents in power dynamics. Secondly, it explores how the themes within these books contribute to enhancing the public perception of elderly identity among various social strata, especially the target audience of these instructional materials, and how they shape a knowledgeable discourse.
Research Question(s)
The main research question of this study can be formulated as follows:
  1. To what extent does the discourse on age in these textbooks align with the Iranian conceptualization of this term?
  2. Have these educational materials succeeded in deepening identity formation and societal inclusivity for their target audience, or have they merely remained superficially focused on cognitive linguistics?
2. Literature Review
In the realm of literature on educational studies, discussions on discrimination have predominantly focused on issues of race (Nelson 2002) and gender (Táboas-Pais & Rey-Cao 2012)., overshadowing the equally important matter of age-based discrimination. While racial and gender inequalities intensify disparities among skin colors, ethnicities, and genders, age-based discrimination brings forth a distinct polarity between the marginalized and the central, emphasizing the dichotomy of old and young. Existing theoretical and empirical observations in educational studies, particularly in the analysis of textbook content, have predominantly delved into racial discrimination and gender inequality.

3. Methodology
This study adopts a focauldian critical discourse analysis approach, aiming to liberate the discourse surrounding the aging body from the shackles of stereotypical power dynamics and negative connotations. By transforming "natural necessities" into "socially constructed possibilities," this approach seeks to redefine the concept of "age." The authors employ the critical discourse analysis method as an effective tool in scrutinizing English language teaching materials. Indeed,  this study is framed in Laclau and Mouffe’s theory who have endeavored to make Foucault's discourse approach more practical and have applied it in analyzing social concepts such as historical constructs. The underlying theoretical idea of the discourse theory is that social phenomena are never entirely fixed. Meanings are never permanently stabilized, opening the door for perpetual social struggles over definitions of society and identity. The analyst's task is to reveal the flow of these struggles over the stability of meaning at all social levels. In conclusion, this critical discourse analysis aims to shed light on the discourse surrounding age in English language teaching materials. By challenging the naturalization of societal constructs and redefining the meaning of age, this approach seeks to contribute to a broader understanding of identity and foster societal inclusivity. It questions the extent to which these educational materials have succeeded in transcending linguistic cognitive aspects to promote a deeper sense of identity and societal integration for their intended audience.

4. Results
The results in this article have demonstrated that a form of discursive polarization between the elderly and the youth has taken place in most sections of the textbooks, in a way that everything related to the world of the youth is perceived as positive, and the associations of the elderly world are relatively negative. In the mentioned textbooks, the element of experience as a motivating force for the elderly has often been ignored, and they have been represented in a passive imagery, akin to a child, as if "experience" is no longer a guiding light for the future.
Furthermore, in this article, it is evident that the elderly have been represented in some aspects like "absence/negative matter," "childishness,". In most daily routine activities, the elderly are absent. Even when present, they are portrayed in a negative and ailing manner or have a performative/passive function. In this sense, the access of the elderly to the dominant discourse of textbooks has been severed, and adolescents and middle-aged individuals have occupied a central position as the subject of discourse. It is essential for curriculum planners to clearly define the discursive concept of age, directing it towards societal acceptance and human dignity.
In conclusion, this study reveals that despite the linguistic success at the cognitive level, the mentioned textbooks have shortcomings in the societal and identity-forming stage for the audience and have failed to align with the prospects of national curriculum planning and the Fundamental Reform Document in education . A discursive approach to the concept of curriculum planning will thus assist the authors of textbooks in achieving the goal of educational justice and formulating an egalitarian discursive framework (as emphasized in the Fundamental Reform Document).
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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Discourse Analysis
Published: 2024/12/30

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