Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Contemporary journalistic texts of Latvia in the discoursively cognitive aspect


Contemporary journalistic texts of Latvia in the discoursively cognitive aspect

I. Milevicha

Alberta koledža,

Riga, Latvia


Often in the cognitive linguistics, the discoursive method is regarded an effective research method. Nowadays the research of various discourses is irregular: one of the best researched discourses is political discourse (a separate branch in cognitive linguistics – political linguistics), but less research is done e.g. on scientific discourse. Latvian scientists have started to pay more attention to this discourse during the past few years and in annual publications “The Language of Science” (“Zinātnes Valoda”) the results of the research of various aspects are shown.

The research of contrastive cognitive journalistic discourse corresponds with the assignments of the cognitive and pragmatic linguistic direction in describing experience. Researches like these might help in stabilizing the scientific approaches in the theories of discourses, in the research process of the cognitive structures and operations, and supplement the verities of functional stylistics.

For the analysis of the journalistic discourse the theory of referent groups, which is made in the field of social psychology and sociology, might be effectively used. The theory of referent groups explains the principles of making various social groups including communicative aspects. It is possible to solve communicative principles of pragmatics in creating “one's own” referent group of readers by using referent group theory in order to research the communicative strategics of journalistic texts.

The relationships between the recipient and supplier of the information have a special place in the new conditions of cultural policy. In Latvia the number of both – recipient and supplier of information is increasing. [6] It means that the task of the mass media attraction of “its own” readership and creation of “its own reader circle” and it promotes the mass media attention drawn to improving and varying its communicative methods. Naturally, in such an environment the competitiveness of media is growing – during the past years “journalism has become sharper in the competition, more sensational, informative, corrupted, controlled by monopolies, and accessible for everyone”. [107, p. 134]

In sociological researches it has been admitted that “the explosively quantitative development” of the mass media in Latvia has started in 1988. [1, p. 104] The changes in this period of time and their causes have been widely analyzed from the point of view of sociology, sociolingusitics, politology and cultural politics. Also the peculiarities of the mass communication and issues related to them are touched upon from different aspects. For example, the content of the journalistic text and the problems related to its writing [1], modernization and contemporary communications in Latvia [4], journalism from the point of view of consumer psychology [7] and other issues of mass communication are becoming the object of scientific attention. The new object of research now is electronic media in Latvia and all over the world. [9]

In recent mass media researches the idea of the social nature of communication and that its function is not only to carry the information, because “communication is included into the social relationships of the communicators” is especially emphasized. [25, c. 170] In some researches the social function of the mass communication is considered to be the dominant in forwarding the social idea. Another function as important as the previous one is social orientation function: “Considering that use of information is directly related to management issue then mass media meant for mass consumption may be assumed as special socially informative system which implements the orientation function.” [18, c. 59] Sometimes the social compensation function is mentioned. [15, c. 23] There are rather fragmentary verities about the functions of these peculiarities. However, supposed that these social orientation and compensation functions take a very important place among other functions of mass communication (information giving, social influence) and thereby more attention should be paid to those. So, that is how in the borders of various journalistic discourses the social function comes into effect as social orientation function in political discourse or as social compensation function in cultural discourse.

“Consumption is the materialization of the use-value of a commodity or service for satisfying process of needs” [2, p. 18]. No doubt that the press publications are not only a group of printed texts, but also they are a consumption object: “in a society of buying and selling in which we are living, in the beginning is an item which one has to know how to sell” [7, p. 128]. In the sociological mass communication researches it has been admitted that reading journalistic texts is one of the most popular consumption modes. As one of the most significant phenomena of the 20th century, consumption is “a culture process element that includes signs and symbols of culture and is not a simple economic and utilitarian process”. [22, c. 18, 21] And the research of this phenomenon deals with adherence of various factors. “Consumption decision is psychologically motivated. It is set by the conviction of the consumer about the urgency of needs, viewpoint, interests, desires, values orientation. …Consumer behavior is determined by subjective mindset and social attitude. The profitableness, amount, competition and other conditions are the ones that characterize it. Mostly the consumer behavior depends on what one is thinking about the next day and according to that, a behavior strategy is made. Therefore, while examining the consumer behavior, it is asked: How situated one is, what are one’s demographic indicators, age and etc.?” [2, p. 18, 21].

The mass media researches (mainly sociological and sociopsychological) interpret the trust acquiring mechanism with the help of consumption phenomenon. At the same time, earning the consumer trust in contemporary conditions means showing positive results of successful consumption process. Various attention-drawing mechanisms are subjected to this goal. “In a tight competition the press publications, later also broadcasts and TV programs, started to fight for audience, i.e. for a position in the advertising market, having reproaches about how the content of those is becoming more shallow and trivial” [1, p. 104]. Consciousness and world pattern of a reader of the press and text consumer on one side, and world pattern of author-publicist and seller on the other side come in the interest center of various sciences. This aspect includes cognitive categories and operations and with their help these different world patterns are created. Now in the cognitive science, linguistic anthropology and ethnopsychology the research of “the cognitive recollections of a word” [28, c. 230] is being done most actively. Despite the wide researches in this field, “the models showing the mentality of a linguo-cultural society at this moment are not invented.” [28, c. 234] Similar model analysis is related to cognition archetypes, enormous volume of (fiction, journalistic) texts where the cultural model of individual author appears. [28, c. 235] Admittedly the repertoire of culturally significant indicators sometimes is contradictious, because not only national self-consciousness, but also the corporative self-consciousness that dominates in certain cultural environment. [28, c. 235] This conclusion is especially significant, because our objective is the corporative self-consciousness of a certain group (readers and authors-publicists) where the widest range of intervening principles and ways of the dominant groups (which in the naive world often are called authorities, stars)  have a great role in creating it. Respectively, this kind of research prescribes the social influence function examination in the linguo-cognitive aspect of various dominant groups in society and their world pattern. In the contrastive linguo-cognitive analysis center it is possible to find the following conceptions, e.g., cognitive categories and terms: world pattern, concept, spokesperson, discourse, text.

Linguo-cognitive analysis has to clarify the author-publicist position in the identification process of one's own group (i.e. self-identification) and alien group. The peculiarity of a journalistic text is that author identifies oneself with the recipient (i.e. creates concept of we), at the same time fulfilling service function ('we will give you the necessary information'). The author-publicist tends to create a unite world pattern with the reader by offering various models and examples, i.e. the task of the publicist is socially determined – one has to obtain the reader's personal social activity promotion in verbal and nonverbal level: “freedom of the press increases not only the amount of information, but also the wish to talk about this information” [3, p. 80–81]. Therefore, one of the main publicist’s pragmatic objectives is creating such conditions where it would be possible to obtain the trust of the reader and to form a common group. In order to implement this pragmatic objective of publicist (to be more precise, group of authors-publicists) in learning the cognitive categories, it would be effective to use the theory of referent group which is invented in sociology. According to the verities of Robert K. Merton – who is one of the pioneers of this theory – referent groups are social groups on which interests, statements, values an individual is oriented; an individual may belong to the group or not, but is oriented towards them in the behavior construction [13, p. 175].

One of the most important channels by the help of which the group identification process can take place is mass communication and on its special role among the channels showed Pierre Bourdieu. According to him, the press publications serve and create certain social groups, and their needs. [17, p. 72] These virtual social groups created (“social constructs”, “classes on paper”) align in the identification process of ideologically designed classes and real groups. [17, c. 59, 62].

The research of the communicative strategics in creating referent groups is troubled, because the contacts between the participants of the virtual (unreal) social group are not obligatory: the participants are “invisible colleges” (R. K. Melton). Especially this peculiarity unveils in the analysis of “nation” referent group that draws great attention in sociology, ethnopsychology and in the field of political technologies. [Имидж лидера www] This kind of referent group research is related to mythical thinking and its implementations. B. Borisow calls “national self-consciousness as one of the most stable contemporary myths [16, c. 263]. Therefore, very often concepts with typical mythologically national components are included in the texts of political conceptions (especially texts of pre-election campaigns) – i.e. national self-consciousness, national idea, national image, etc., thus appealing to the stable standards and values of the referent group “nation”.

Thereby contrastive discoursively cognitive analysis is directed to examining the communicative differences in creating we-group (internal group, in-group) and they-group (external group, out-group).

In directing towards one's own group, orientation on standards, models and comparison to them take a significant place. The choice between the plenty of possible normative images is made in the process of “orientation of human selectivity” [23], in which emotional factors are considered to be most important. Often in social sciences this kind of factor is called social emotion or prestige, on which such phenomena as corporative identity, life style and individual image are based on [16, c. 17]. As a result of this kind of subjective selectivity certain comparative and normative referent groups are chosen to which such well known people in society as actors, athletes, politicians belong. J. Turner calls these two comparative referent group functions (comparative and normative function) as predominant [29, c. 20]. At the same time, the comparison and development of standards, both are becoming as functions of referent groups. These are related to category of evaluation – “human orientation, one's operation and action, personal assessment of values from the side of one's referent group” [29, c. 45].

Attraction of comparative and informative influences (i. e. relevant referent group) promotes the stabilization processes of  one's own group and determines the choice of the communicative tactics: “Orientation on we-group and so called announcements of an authority are taken into account” [21, c. 37]. As sociological researches show, the representatives of comparative and informative referent groups have potential on obtaining trust, and nowadays, in the context of cultural politic situation, it is especially considerable.

Creation of one's own referent group is affected by other groups that have strong comparative and normalization functions. Comparative referent groups (example groups) and value referent group are “a real or unreal group of people where the individual recognizes as strong representatives, the spokespersons of their values that are respected” [22, c. 434]. The example group often is identified together with elite groups. In contemporary politology a particular interest is shown towards the role of elite (mostly intellectual and political) in the mobilization of ethnic feelings, tension between ethnic groups and escalation of it by turning into an open conflict [27, c. 188]. Many facts indicate the particular position of comparative referent group in the world of journalism, e.g., activation of semantic group – stars (V.I.P., prominences, elite), new genres (Светвкая хроника) and the thematic publications.

Informative referent group – is a group of those people whose information we trust,  and it is divided into two forms: experienced persons and experts. [Ильин 1998:43-44] From the self-categorization point of view of, an expert (or a leader) is a person who represents the harmony of the group the best [29, c. 299]. An expert as a member of an informative referent group represents the pattern of the scientific world and that differs from the pattern of the we referent group's world. Pattern of scientific world is a human scientific cognition invariant in particular period of history, and the result of reflecting time and space continuum in the collective scientific cognition [24, c. 112]. A great role in involving this informative group into creating strategies of one's own group has intermediary, i.e. mediator between the representatives of pattern of scientific world and the ones of our (naive) patterns of world. The author-publicist undertakes this role of mediator in mass media. Especially this role is shown in journalistic popularizing discourse, described in [12].

Thereby, very significant in the examining the creation mechanisms of “one's own circle” are sociologization agents, i.e., coauthor of the communication (often called symbolic socialization agent) tending to create we-group with readers and at the same time delimiting alien group; representatives of informative referent group (specialist) and representatives of comparative referent group (the star). Each of these kinds of groups match particular types of journalistic discourses (scientific, scientific popularizing; cultural discourse; analytically political discourse), which allows to do the comparative analysis of these discourses in journalistic of Latvia.


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