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  1. These are, in general, all approaches to the study of discourse. A discourse is an integral sequence of utterances and signs that determines the worldview, practices, and behavior of a particular social group.

    The modern understanding of discourse owes its origin to Ferdinand de Saussure's theory of language. He distinguished between a synchronic sign system with a structure (langue) and direct diachronic communication, speech (parole), and also distinguished “langage” – a phenomenon of human communication that depends on the socio-cultural context. Saussure was primarily interested in analyzing the synchronic structure of language, but the idea of langage also significantly influenced the further development of the concept of discourse. Kristeva, Barth et al., continuing their research of language and semiotics based on structuralism, paid special attention to socio-cultural and intertextual aspects. For example, Barth distinguished two levels of signification, denotative and connotative. Denotation is the referential connection of the signifier with the signified described by Saussure, first-order signification. Connotation, on the other hand, is a second – order signification-something more vague, metaphorical, and dependent on cultural usage, social practices, and attitudes. Privileged groups can impose connotative meanings under the guise of denotative ones, creating “myths”.

    The most influential theorist in this field was Foucault. Unlike Barth and others, who were primarily interested in semiotics, he was interested in the relationship of discourses with power. In his works “The Birth of the Clinic”, “Madness and Civilization”, “The Order of Things”, etc., he used the archaeological method to study “epistems” – discursive systems of knowledge that constitute a particular historical era, the rules of speaking, the conceivability and unthinkability of various discourses. According to Foucault, a discursive formation-a network of meanings-is automatically also a network of power relations. Discourse is a material and constitutive part of the world, not a representation of it.

    In the 1970s, discourse theory became very popular in cultural studies and literary theory, and also significantly influenced feminist (Butler et al.) and postcolonial (Said) theorists.

    It has also had a certain influence on Anglo-American analytical philosophy – in particular, some ideas can be traced back to the social theory of John Searle.

    In my opinion, the theory of discourse is important because it draws attention to issues that have long been stigmatized in science. Words, meanings, and society exist only in people's minds. Nevertheless, their causal and constitutive power cannot be denied. The study of these phenomena can help to find new approaches to various sciences, and not only to social ones.

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