Teun van Dijk, (2006) Discourse, context and cognition

ABSTRACT: In this article the relevance of a sociocognitive approach to discourse is shown by presenting a new theory of context, defined as subjective participants’ constructs of communicative situations, and made explicit in terms of mental models – context models – in Episodic Memory. Through a ‘contextual analysis’ of a fragment of one of the ‘Iraq’ speeches by Tony Blair in the British House of Commons, it is shown how such context models control and explain many political aspects of interaction that cannot be accounted for in autonomous approaches to text and talk. Context models thus provide an explicit theory of relevance and the situational appropriateness of discourse, and hence also a basis for theories of style.

KEYWORDS: context, context model, discourse, discourse processing, mental model, social situation

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