Interdiscourse is the implicit or explicit relations that a discourse has to another discourse. Interdiscursivity is the aspect of a discourse that relates it to other discourses. Norman Fairclough prefers the concept "orders of discourse". Interdiscursivity is often mostly an analytic concept, e.g. in Foucault and Fairclough. Interdiscursivity has close affinity to recontextualisation.

Interdiscursive can be understood at least three levels:

  1. In Courtine interdiscursivity means that a discourse has a relation to another discourse. That is, a meaning which is close to the meaning of intertextuality.
  2. In Norman Fairclough and Liniell interdiscursive denotes relations between types of discourse such as genres.
  3. In Michel Foucault interdiscursive denotes relations between discursive formations, that is, between large heterogeneous discursive entities, such as natural history and political economy during enlightenment. In Foucault, the concept denotes differences and equalities across discursive formations.

An example (where 1. corresponds to a., etc) illustrates the three levels: A minister of environment speaks in the parliament about a proposal.

  • a. She refers to other specific speeches in the parliament about the proposal.
  • b. She refers to a memorandum from her civil servants.
  • c. She refers to scientific reports supporting the proposal.

The example illustrates that 2. and 3. are specific cases of 1. Nevertheless, 2. and 3. may be conceived as particularly salient. This is explained in Marc Angenot and Bruce by reference to Bakhtin: In Bakhtin's dialogism, the utterance is the natural meaningful and finalised unit of speech, which others are supposed to respond to, that is, others interpret the utterance. But, an utterance may be interpreted in various ways, and interdiscourse and interdiscursivity denote how certain such interpretations (and relations to other discourses) are socially more privileged than others. Since interdiscourse privileges certain interpretations, it has a close affinity to the concepts of ideology, hegemony and power (sociology). For Bakhtin/Voloshinov, signs are a reality that refracts another reality, that is, signs are ideological .

The cogent and restrictive character of the interdiscourse is reflected in the concept of the primacy of interdiscourse . The interdiscourse is the sayable, the opposite of what cannot be enounced (l'inénoncable). But, the interdiscourse has also primacy in the sense that it defines those relations between discursive entities (or formations) that are constitutive of the discursive entities. What is acceptable discourse, is also an interdiscursive problem, because the interdiscursive relations constitute a worksharing between the discursive entities that frames what is acceptable discourse within each discursive entity.



  • Angenot, Marc. Social Discourse Analysis: Outlines of a Research Project Yale Journal of Criticism, 2004, 17, Number 2, Fall 2004, pp. 199-215
  • Angenot, Marc. 1889. Un état du discours social. Éditions du Préambule, Montréal, 1989
  • Bahktin, M.M. (1986) Speech genres and other late Essays. University of Texas Press.
  • Bruce, Donald. (1995). De l'intertextuality à l'interdiscursivity. Toronto: Les Editions Paratexte.
  • Courtine, Jean-Jacques (1981) Analyse du discours politique (le discours communiste adressé aux chrétiens) Paris: Langages 1981, 5-128
  • Fairclough, Norman. (2003) Analysing Discourse - textual research for social research. New York: Routledge
  • Foucault, Michel (1969). L'archéologie du savoir. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Linell, Per (1998). Approaching Dialogue. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 1998.
  • Maingueneau, Dominique. (1991). L'analyse du discours. Paris: Hachette.
  • Voloshinov, V.N (1973) Marxism and the Philosophy of language. New York & London: Seminar Press

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