Re-constructing the past : a critical discourse analysis of three alcohol memoirs
Van Egdom, Kevin
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Subjectaddiction memoir; alcohol addiction; alcoholism and recovery; Canadian memoir; Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA); life writing
The basic, objective manifestation of the problematic use of alcohol is a physical dependence on the substance. However, what we call alcohol addiction is a web of meanings that have become embedded through language in use. This study considered the discourses evident in memoirs about alcohol use. The discourses that manifested in the texts were identified through five discursive strategies: nomination, predication, argumentation, perspectivization, and intensification/mitigation. Analysis was undertaken through the lens of Schein’s concept of culture. By mapping the artifacts found in the individual memoirs to broad common discourses of alcohol addiction, the study identified the presence not only of discourses that have been considered essentializing and marginalizing, but also of a more empowering discourse. This led to the conceptualization of a model of successful addiction and recovery narratives, based upon the maximization of three principles: the primacy of individual experience, rationality of alcohol use, and agency in recovery.
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