The Distinction between Dialogue and Discourse

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Bakhtin, Mikhail. Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Trans. R. W. Rotsel. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1973

  • We have entitled our chapter "Discourse in Dostoevsky," for we have in mind discourse, that is, language in its concrete living totality, and not language as a specific object of linguistics, something arrived at through a completely legitimate and necessary abstraction from various aspects of the concrete life of the word. But precisely those aspects in the life of the word that linguistics makes abstract are, for our purposes, of primary importance. (p. 181)
  • The chief subject of our investigation, one could even say its chief hero, will be double-voiced discourse, which inevitably arises under conditions of dialogic interaction, that is, under conditions making possible an authentic life for the word. Linguistics does not recognize double-voiced discourse. (p. 185)


Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. (London: Sage, 2007).

  • Discourse has quite a specific meaning [in Foucault's theoretical arguments.] It refers to a group of statements which structure the way a thing is through, and the way we act on the basis of that thinking. In other words, discourse is a particular knowledge about the world which shapes how the world is understood and how things are done in it. (p. 142)
  • John Berger (1972:46) points out some of the implications of everyday practice of that discourse: 'a woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her won image of herself. (p. 143)
  • Discourse disciplines subjects into certain ways of thinking and acting but this is not simply repressive; it does not impose rules for thought and behavior pre-existing human agent. Instead human subject are produced through discourses. (p. 143)