Assignment 4 – Discourse Analysis II

Discourse Analysis II

Discourse analysis II, though also focusing on visuals and texts like discourse analysis I, especially concentrates on the “practices” of specific institutions and “their production of particular human subjects” (Rose, p.164, 2001). The main characteristics of discourse analysis II therefore examine the “consequences” of these practices of classification and the meaning that elements within a certain institution have. Discourse analysis II is mainly different from discourse analysis II because is “shifts attention away from details of individual images” and focuses on the institute”. Rose identifies discourse analysis II as concentrating on “production and audiencing” in societies norm (Rose, p.167, 2001).

There are two ways in which these institutions can function; through apparatuses and through technologies (Rose, p.166, 2001). These two functions are very closely interlinked but have different functions within the discourse analysis. An institutional apparatus is according to Rose, “the form of power/knowledge which constitute the institution” (Rose, p. 166, 2001).  Examples she gives for this include the idea of laws, morals, regulations but also architecture and philosophical statements. Institutional technologies refer to the practical techniques that are employed to practice the power and knowledge in the institutional apparatus. This can be demonstrated in many different ways and methods. An example of technologies that Rose mentions is photography. Photography is seen as a technology as it displays a ‘truthful’ image. A photo is seen as an identical representation of reality and is therefore also seen as a method to represent truth. This idea of ‘truth’ ties in with institutional apparatus. Asserted truth is necessary for institutions to be able to do the things they are meant to do. Rose states that “institutions [use] photography as a crucial technology through which these distinctions were made visible” and therefore use photography as a truth assertion (Rose, p.167, 2001). For example, an institution like a police station needs truthful claims to be “able to detect and punish” rightfully (Rose, p.167, 2001).

There are different kind of sources which can be used to analyze within a discourse analysis II. They are often very similar to those that are used in a discourse analysis I. They are very diverse and there many different methods in which different sources can be employed. Written texts can be employed as well as annual reports or mission statements. These texts could be produced by different types of people, like “reformers, philanthropists, civil servants and curators” (Rose, p.169, 2001). However, visual images and photographs can also be a great source for discourse analysis II. These can also be images of buildings and rooms and even certain displays. Architecture can also even be a plausible source. By looking at how the institution is designed, new facts and information can be found. Simply by observing the way other people visit the institution is also often a very efficient method to find out more about the institution. All of these sources are only a few of what can be used. This method, as said before, is very similar to the method of discourse analysis I and is therefore mainly used to “look for key themes, for truth claims, for complexity and for absences” (Rose, p.171, 2001).

Discourse Analysis II Example: McDonald’s

McDonald’s is arguably the biggest and most well-known fast f
ood restaurant in the world. The institution and how it functions is therefore also very familiar and similar no matter what McDonald’s you’re in. Thus, they have a clear method in terms of what institutional apparatuses and institutional technologies McDonald’s uses.

The institutional apparatus is McDonald’s system of ordering and receiving food. It was one of the first ‘restaurants’ to think of a meal as something that could be achieved swiftly. The way their system works – order at counter – wait a couple minutes – receive food in bag to go – changed the way the whole institution functions is designed and how their technologies are used. When the drive thru concept was developed, this idea of their institutionalized apparatus changed even more.

McDonald’s has designed their institutional technologies all around this concept of ‘fast food’. The technologies employed in McDonald’s restaurants include displays, written texts, photography, spatial organization, and even type of visitors.

The displays in McDonald’s are often right behind the order counter. It is designed in such a way that when a customer comes in and walks to the counter to order that they see the displays (written text and visual images) right away and often choose their food based on that representation. Pictures of foods that they want to sell are featured on this display as well as possible deals that the customers can order. For example, when buying one cheeseburger, there are often deals where a milkshake can be added for only 1 extra euro, prompting the customer to buy more.


Rose, G. (2001). Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials. London: Sage. (Chapter 7: Discourse Analysis II: Institutions and Ways of Seeing)

Leave a Reply