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How do social situations influence language use, discourse and conversation? This book is a monograph which presents a multidisciplinary theory of context and the way context influences language use and discourse. Unlike in earlier approaches, contexts are not defined as objective social 'variables', such as gender or age. Rather, they are constructs of the participants themselves, that is, 'subjective definitions of the communicative situation' that are made explicit in the sociocognitive notion of context models. These models dynamically control all language use, make sure that discourses are appropriate in the communicative situation and hence are the basis of pragmatics. In this book, context models are studied especially from a (socio) linguistic and cognitive perspective. In another book published by Cambridge University Press, Society and Discourse, Teun A. van Dijk develops the social psychological, sociological and anthropological dimensions of the theory of context.
Teun A. van Dijk was Professor of Discourse Studies at the University of Amsterdam until 2004, and is at present Professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. After earlier work on generative poetics, text grammar, and the psychology of text processing, his work since 1980 has taken a more critical perspective and deals with discursive racism, news in the press, ideology, knowledge and context. He is the author of several books in most of these areas, and edited The Handbook of Discourse Analysis (four volumes, 1985) the introductory book Discourse Studies (two volumes, 1997) as well as the reader The Study of Discourse (five volumes, 2007). He has founded six international journals - Poetics, Text (now Text & Talk), Discourse & Society, Discourse Studies, Discourse & Communication and the internet journal in Spanish Discurso & Sociedad (www.dissoc.org) - of which he still edits the latter four. His last monographs in English are Ideology (1998) and Racism and Discourse in Spain and Latin America (2005), and his last edited book (with Ruth Wodak) is Racism at the Top (2000). He is currently completing a new interdisciplinary study in two volumes on the theory of context, and planning a new book on discourse and knowledge. Van Dijk, who holds two honorary doctorates, has lectured widely in many countries, especially Latin America. With Adriana Bolivar he founded the Asociacion Latino-Americana de Estudios del Discurso (ALED), in 1995. For a list of publications, recent articles, resources for discourse studies and other information, see www.discourses.org.