As an educator and a novice researcher, I truly believe in teachers’ responsibility to critically examine available educational materials and curricular options to identify possible outcomes which will change learners’ worldviews. In this line, I tried to tie this mission to a theoretical framework of Fairclough who is a prolific British sociolinguist and one of the key figures in the realm of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA); I applied this to my study as an independent Master’s thesis in the field of Teaching English Language (TEFL). the main purpose of my study was to identify the emanation of the represented cultural aspects in three different Volumes of the Family and Friends textbooks’ content to cover the elementary and pre-intermediate English knowledge level. The selected textbooks belong to a seven-level primary coursebook in British English learning for foreign English language learners published by Oxford University Press in 2009/2014, (ELT department of Oxford University). In fact, I tended to depict the ideology behind representing cultural matters through the textbooks with regards to their original sources.
The research was conducted based on qualitative and quantitative methods in separated sections but as a mixture-research method form. According to Fairclough (2003), “ideologies are representations of aspects of the world which contribute to establishing and maintaining relations of power, domination, and exploitation” (p. 218). In this regard, to reveal the underlying ideology and latent meaning in discourse the Critical Discourse Analysis provided by Fairclough has been employed as an appropriate framework.
The applied framework is an amalgamation of three interrelated models (1989, 1995, 2003) provided by Fairclough; his (2003) model was considered partially because some of its analytical devices were not related to the goal of this research project.In the qualitative analysis, the cultural themes include Opposite-sex contact, Gender subject position, Depiction of nationality, Kinship, Consumerism, and Human-nature relationship. These cultural codes were investigated under a three-dimensional analytical model in regard to the text, discourse practices, and social practices. The analytical model for these three stages had three steps as, description: the text analysis (verbal, visual or combination of both); interpretation: the discursive practice (production and consumption); explanation: the sociocultural practice (globalization or privileged culture).
In the descriptive level, the researcher took into account three supplementary components which have been adopted from Fairclough (2003) as implication, identity, and representation. On the other hand, these six aspects of culture with some of their subcomponents were investigated quantitatively to find out the number of their representations regarding their predetermined categorizations.The results of the study revealed that the three selected textbooks represented the western culture in all the cultural aspects particularly in several cultural codes like, opposite-sex contact which rather differs in Orient countries such as Iran (my country). Two various astonishing revolved perspectives were identified in orientations to gender bias for oppression females in domestic situations and admiring extended family as a forgotten family structure in modern life. The former could be considered as a rejected response to feminism movement and the latter absolutely is in favor of British government policy in recent years with regard to financial benefits of families.
In fact, the gender subject position as one of the most prominent aspects of every culture represented in the textbooks against the prior expectations. It was expected that the EFL textbook to present less gender bias in comparison with other domestic textbooks in developing countries. Although this study did not compare the EFL textbooks with other textbooks materials which were published in Iran, there is an obvious trend towards traditional roles and positions. Males were presented significantly more than females in the statistical analysis of occupational positions and the only exception in which females proceeded in the number of occupation was related to the teaching job.
But as it was mentioned in qualitative analysis, this specific job was represented differently from gender to gender. Therefore, there is a two-dimensional perspective to the representation of jobs for genders; the first one is the significant gap between males and females who occupied each job in the textbooks in which it was shown that males outnumbered females specifically in high-status occupations. The second phase is more related to the definition which the textbooks offered about the capability of each gender in masculine and feminine features through contextualizing active roles to males (e.g. sports coach) and passive roles to females (e.g. art teacher). The results of the other code which is related to family forms illustrate that fears of isolation and loose social networks could be considered as a probable reason for revolving toward rebuilding the extended family.
Furthermore, the extended number of women who are economically active makes the role of grandparental childcare more prominent as before. A quarter of all families in Britain rely on grandparents for childcare (Strategy Unit, 2008).The data analysis of the consumerism’s code indicated that the pictorial and textual content of the textbooks appears to favor discourses in a way which lead readers and learners in harmony with the interest of consumerism. This led us to conclude that the content of the textbooks tried to change identities through changing values and representation.
Fairclough (2003a) states that the covert power of systems such as media constructed a neo-liberal project to change identities. As a result, one can consider consumerism as one of the comprising components of globalization which could be consequences of capitalism of Western countries. The consumerism culture built its foundation on impressing people to buy or consume a type of product in order to become part of an elite group. In this respect, the social classes, as Fairclough (ibid) stated, are defined by social relations which are directly influenced by economic transformation. The results of human-nature relationships revealed that the textbooks embedded ideological concept in relation to representing human dominance over nature and particularly animals in the pleasant or acceptable way.
On the other hand, according to Kline’s (2000) argument, the globalization and consumerism were the two salient elements in the first half of the twentieth century which were the cause of negligence in environmental problems.This study perceived that the textbooks instead of inviting their audience to be horrified by the consequences of overconsumption’s effect on nature and animals used the dominant ideology to prove the human right to be superior on nature. Furthermore, the quantitative and statistical results showed that the textbooks tried to loosen and rend the strings between human and nature by keeping the human in isolation or human-made institutions.These findings provided a proper answer to the first research question; as the investigation around specific elements for comprising globalization ‘consumerism and human-nature relationship’ were examined. The last two globalization’s components were represented in a great range.
As confirmed in the quantitative method, by the focus on encouraging children as likely future consumers to consume and buy products as much as possible in order to be part of elite group of society as the snob appeals.Exploitive view by the human on other creatures such as animals and nature was depicted in human-nature relationship theme with two different sub-categories as ‘Human dominance over nature and Nature as object’. The human dominance was represented clearly through pictures and texts in a vast range from the impulse to conservation and so forth. Objectifying nature was founded as a practical strategy to conceal the heightened abuse of nature by humankind. In fact, when nature is represented as an object and not alive creature as human, man is allowed to use this objectified nature as a source for business, clinical research, entertainment or drudgery purposes.