Mediated discourse analysis

In this video, Karen Wohlwend (School of Education, Indiana University Bloomington) discusses the use of mediated discourse analysis in her research with elementary school children and their teachers.

In one of her articles (Wohlwend, 2014), Wohlwend defines mediated discourse analysis (MDA) as “an action-oriented approach to critical discourse analysis that takes sociocultural activity as its primary focus, looking closely at a physical action as the unit of analysis” and in the same article she states the purpose of the MDA as the following:

  1. to locate and make visible the nexus of practice—a mesh of commonplace practices and shared meanings that bind communities together but that can also produce exclusionary effects and reproduce inequitable power relations
  2. to show how such practices are made up of multiple mediated actions that appropriate available materials, identities, and discourses
  3. to reveal how changes in the smallest everyday actions can effect social change in a community’s nexus of practice.

In this video, Wohlwend shares the processes and methods involved in the mediated discourse analysis to understand children’s film production, their activity in the classroom and the toys that they were using, ultimately connecting and situating them in global histories and discourses.

She contends that mediated discourse analysis allows researchers to see how actions are situated in global discourses that affect children on a daily basis, such as what boys are expected to do and what girls are expected to do. It also allows a look at the unspoken ways that culture shapes everyday activities and to ask or to think with participants to find out what they really matters to them.


Wohlwend, K. E. (2014). Mediated discourse analysis: Tracking discourse in action. In P. Albers, T. Holbrook, & A. S. Flint, (Eds.), New methods of literacy research. New York: Routledge.

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