Discourse refers to the way of gathering knowledge together with social practices. It is the study of how people communicate about people, things and social organization of the society, and helps to shape what we think and know at any point in time. However, it does not just mean thinking and producing meanings, it consists of the conscious and unconscious ‘nature’ of the body, and helps to shape the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and identities of an individual. This theory is also known as Foucault theory. Ideology and discourse are related to each other in a way that ideology shapes discourse, and when discourse comes into effect, it then influences the reproduction of ideology. For example anti-immigrant discourse and mainstream media in the US. During the immigration reform, the most heard words were- illegal, immigrants and country. These words together reflect that the US is under attack by some foreign criminal threat. These words, in turn, reflect particular values, ideas and beliefs about the immigrants and the citizens of the US.
The term “discursive formation” refers to the type of communication that produces discourse, like informal communication. Different discourses are interrelated to each other. Discourse does not exist in itself, it is related to other discourses as well. It creates a social boundary for making a remark about a certain topic. It can affect a person’s perspective, and it is impossible to avoid discourse for any topic. For example, freedom fighters of one country can be termed as ‘terrorists’ by another country. At present, there are different notions of discourse in humanity. Recently there has been an increasing interest in the study of discourse. The idea of discourse suits well in analyzing social processes and practices of knowledge in modern societies, and helps to provide a better theoretical understanding of a ‘stock of knowledge’. It is a theoretical device for putting the data in order and analyzing the events. Here, ‘event’ means the past occurrences with respect to the problems of established regimes of practices. this will help in qualitative research in the social sciences. One thing that should be kept in mind is that the social actors that are involved in different social fields perform actions and social practices, and not the discourse itself. The social actors may engage in different discourses and for a very short period of time.
Discourse research can be done on different levels of abstraction. It is also able to consider differences and similarities among sub-discourses. Discourses are not seen immediately, it occurs with time and social as well as geographical space. Its analysis starts with general sociological research interests. And then it addresses the questions, either general or discursive.