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Crtical Discourse analysis and Conversation analysis of a spoken text Essay Example

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Stay in the Closet

Jason Akermanis Footy Show Interview


Interviewer: jackson et commanders has told i fell place to stay in the closet because the game is not prepared for this sexuality the outspoken i feel veteran night this tight-knit in his weekly newspaper column and this morning he was grilled by tonight show (high pitch, high intonation, no pause).

Interviewer: highs Cal stephan I think take a look can you clarify the comments on that the ISE that homosexual football players should not come out of the closet what exactly do you mean by that (slightly low pitch, high tone continuity)

Jason: well I can carry that problem with heavy for them to do that i think is a safe environment we having i feel I’m not sure that other applies will be ready for I now apply with I a guy footballer in the two sides talk about in mining claims that and looking back in hindsight I really should have gone is back into images had a chat this isn’t a clear any kind of problems at all I’m I’ve had because really he was a terrific guy it s very tough and courageous he really she is light up and i think is being a a little bit over a guy hunting going on with John to get people to come at and i’m not sure that’s very siphon healthy for the competition ada if you are you doing a proper lies is your business we don’t care way to play football and football is seen to be at the peak of masculinity which of course then my Tama five EAC home I said it’s big so we as footballers need to be more open if there is and accept people with I would come at but at the moment I’m not sure that why you apply it would be a sight thing what what what do you mean by (High tone, high pitch, full range, overlapping talk, no silences, some micropauses)


Quite a few introductory quotes in the video serve to exemplify what has been mostly referred to as gendered discourses surrounding Australian football. In first of these quotes by Jason, football is seen specifically as a male dominated game so footballers who think coming out must, on Jason’s premise, prefer to stay in the closet. The discourse is a clear indication from the footballer that the game cannot deal with a football player who is gay and who wants to come out of the closet.

His stress intonation in the video is indicative of his aspersions that coming out in the open for a gay footballer in AFL would be too much of a burden for him to carry. The discourse accepts that football locker room nudity is commonplace and footballers are accustomed to the same but once someone from the league comes out of the closet, it would be of great discomfort to other footballers to handle the locker room nudity.

The Jason discourse helps define football as a game of stout and strong people that involves masculinity and high levels of aggressiveness. Coming out of the closet would pose a potential danger to that image. Jason’s strong use of gestures is indicative of the assertion that male athletes are perceived and portrayed as hard players, tough enough not to do a public demonstration of their emotions. Their only emotions are a display of anger and aggressiveness and an occasional smile on victory.

Jason plays on the soft side too by saying he has concern and wants public bias against homosexuality to lesson but at the same time he cautions (with strong stress words) that football was not a turf that should be used to lessen the bias. His statement, » I know there are many who think a public AFL outing would break down homophobia, but they don’t live in football clubs,» is indicative of this concern. Jason is not completely vindictive though and keeps room for less criticism against him when he opines that since massive steps have been made in several other areas of society, this issue might also find an address in the near future. When that happens, he says (in a smooth, sombre intonation) then it might be a big deal if a gay player comes out of the closet.

The video enters a gendered contradiction when Jason remarks that being gay is fine with women’s sports but not men. With quite a thrust in his words Jason remarks: «I know there are many who think a public AFL outing would break down homophobia, but they don’t live in football clubs». This conflicting discourse conveys football not only as a male-dominated game but also as site that is fraught with potential gendered contestation because the sport is traditionally thought to be male-dominated on account of masculinity and aggressiveness attached to it.

Shaw and Hoeber (2003) have remarked that while that is one side of the coin, women have been synonymous with being cheerleaders, perceived by the viewer to be glamorous and feminine, cheerfully exhibiting emotions, and cheering in a demonstrative way on ‘their guys’. Jason’s gendered contestation seems to be pointing this out.

Throughout the video and its transcript, it can be seen how the reiteration, development and creation of masculinity and femininity discourses provide a significant mechanism that forms the basis of gendering of sports. There is a conceptual framework that underlines Jason’s video on gender discourses and their role in gendered sports.


Masculine hegemony stays at the core of many gendered discourses and there is frequent reinforcement and reproduction of the same (Krane et al., 2004). Pirinen (1997), for example, has remarked that a hierarchy of male domination is used to institute gender relations, and whenever necessary, female subordination. Thus many of these discourses are used to either challenge or reveal certain natural dominance forms or used to establish male dominance. In contrast, there are certain egalitarian gender discourses that counter discriminatory practices and remove human barrier or structure. Jason’s interview falls more or less in this category.

many efforts are being made to contest current gender relations in the field of sports, but at the same time a great deal of marginalisation has been set against those who try to challenge ideologies that counter masculine hegemonic gender boundaries. McGregor (2003) and Van Dijk (1993) have stated that even as these discourses appear to be normal, they stand of the pedestal of injustice, inequality and prejudice. Multiple social mechanisms further reinforce the vitality of these discourses. Jason’s video does what is known as sport typing, wherein he describes football as a game that is «male».

Koivula (2001) has stated that there are certain basic characteristics in a game that typify it as male or female. For example in football it is power, effectiveness and aggressiveness. Long back this has been also stated by Metheny (1965) who argued that masculine sports attributes include utilisation of robust body strength to physically overpower the opponent, direct body force to move objects that are heavy, wide body projection to occupy huge spaces and distances and sort of intimidating face-to-face body situations. Such norms of antagonism and conflict have linguistic dimensions. Adams et al (2010) terms this as use of «toxic language» in all-male sporting contexts, so as to establish firmer constructs of masculinity.

CDA approach to identities in text

The YouTube broadcast of Stay in the Closet was transcribed verbatim with the help of translation tool available on YouTube. There were two participants in the video; one the television anchor and two Jason Akermanis. Most of the frame focused on Jason and special attention was given to his use of stress, gestures and modulation. Even though the whole video lasted for a couple of minutes the first portion equivalent to around 300 words was analysed as according to the tenets of CDA analysis.

Three levels were used in the analysis. One, the actual text; two, the discursive practices; and three, the larger social context as suggested by Fairclough (1995). A microanalysis of phrases, sentences and words was conducted at the text level to check for subtle and overt manifestation of dominance. Lexical choices and rhetorical constructions were used to examine linguistic choices. Connotations, presuppositions, omissions and insinuations were checked in particular. Analysis of gendered rules was done in the discursive practices, and norms and expectations that determine what is socially acceptable and what is not, and how the participant in the video thought, acted and spoke.

The analysis at the third level included immediate social context of Stay in the Closet and gendered discourses in the Australian society as a whole. This was done to uncover conventions that determine inappropriateness or appropriateness in staying or coming out of closet in Australian football.

CDA approach to identities in texts and discourses is to decipher it in its social, contextual, cultural aspects to understand gender, dominance, power, ideology, ethnic aspects and questioning. Since all these features are intertwined, their resultant effect manifests in written or spoken text. It is a way of scrutinising deeply trace concealed ideology and words used (van Dijk, 1998; Fairclough, 1995).

Intonation, speech rate changes, pauses

Jason’s text is replete with longstanding power relations; an effort in which he evidences conservative gender relations being a male football player. he is evidencing it in four primary ways; a perceived biological gender difference, reference to his peers indulging in something that could be detrimental to the game, establishing a gender stereotype, and using asymmetric denotations in particular reference to men (this is clear from his locker-room comment on nudity).

The notion of gender superiority is particularly manifesting his stand when he says that football is essentially a masculine game and there is no scope for coming out of closet. The gender stereotype as evidences by Jason is clear in his reference to women players for whom it is fine if they come out of the closet. One line quoted above in this regard testifies this.

He uses strong expression, heavy and moving body language, powerful gestures to make the point. He is even arrogant at the same time, which s evidences by his «I don’t care» remark. The text is marked with relatively strong intonation, rare falling and final intonation. At times there seems to be a continuous intonation and absolutely no pauses. Sounds are elongated with frequent emphatic stresses, certain vocal noises that seem to roar through the text and the pitch is on a general high.

There is a strategic appropriation of insult in the gendered discourse which Jason wants to construct differently for male footballers. The speaker builds up his tempo on social relations of football players’ behaviour on homosexuality and uses typical linguistic practice of insult which is wrapped in high-powered masculinity.

Adams et al (2010) has remarked on the regulation and construction of masculinity that it is established by two types. One is masculinity challenging discourse and another masculinity establishing discourse. The text is demonstrative of maintenance of male gender normatively in context of a male-dominated sport as popular as football. The high intonation helps this insult don the role of masculinity’s dominant form. The lack of suitable pauses and continuity of the high intonation permeates through the text at multiple levels. The text, by that measure, is hypermasculine.

CA approach to identities in discourse

Identity is an evolution of the self, role, selfhood, person description, personality, subject and person formulation etc. There is a wide range of interaction and discourse analytic methods which are used to understand identity. Conversation analysis (CA) is one of them. This text is a personal narrative and thus fits into the CA analysis bracket. Harvey Sack’s method of CA has now come up as an established method of analysis verbal conversation. The focus, for example in this text, is talk-in interaction and procedural analysis. This analysis is normally data-driven, hence the need to transcribe the speech and apply appropriate symbols used for intonations, pauses, pitch and range. In analysing speech through CA, classification along the lines of age, race, gender and even class yield part of the overall picture of the context that is being spoken about.

CDA-CA comparative

There are broader intellectual contexts under which CDA and CA have emerged as tools of analysis. The most salient feature of CA is that it does not only capture from transcripts what was said but also how it was said. As a result of this, CA uses a series of symbols to record how the text was said. How text is said communicates a lot about what was the underlying, if not the explicit, meaning of the spoken words. Discourse, on the other hand, is more like a political activity that, sometimes, gives a generalised view of what was spoken. The generalised view is further strengthened by what several scholars have said on the same thing. Their views could be differencing in nature. CDA has emerged in scientific knowledge’s sociological context. CA has emerged as an even better and refined way of interpreting meanings of spoken words.


Adams A, Anderson, E and McCormack, M. (2010). Establishing and challenging masculinity: The influence of gendered discourses in organized sport. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 29(3): 278–300.

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis. London: Longman.

Koivula, N. (2001). Perceived characteristics of sports categorized as gender-neutral, feminine and masculine. Journal of Sport Behavior 24: 337–393.

Metheny, E. (1965). Connotations of Movement in Sport and Dance. Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown. National Women’s Football Association (NWFA) (2008) About the National Women’s Football Association.

Pirinen, R. (1997). Catching up with men? Finnish newspaper coverage of women’s entry into traditionally male sports. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 32: 239–249.

Shaw, S and Hoeber, L. (2003). A strong man is direct and a direct woman is a bitch: Gendered discourses and their influence on employment roles in sports organizations. Journal of Sport Management 17: 347–366.

Shaw, S and Hoeber, L. (2003). A strong man is direct and a direct woman is a bitch: Gendered discourses and their influence on employment roles in sports organizations. Journal of Sport Management 17: 347–366.

McGregor, S. (2003). Critical Discourse Analysis: A Primer. Available at: www.kon.org/archives/forum/15-1/mcgregorcda.html (accessed 28 May 2014).

Van Dijk, T. A. (1993). Principles of critical discourse analysis. Discourse and Society, 4 (2), 249-283.