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Article

Ideology and Discourse in Contemporary Social Sciences and the Humanities and the Role of Sociology in their Conceptualization

The American Sociologist. 2020. P. 1-18.

Discourse and ideology are interrelated concepts in social sciences and the humanities and are even occasionally employed interchangeably. This paper sheds light on their relationship in academic discourse and examines the role of sociology as a scientific field in its conceptualization. Using bibliometric analysis, we examined 15,716 academic publications mentioning “discourse” or “ideology” in their title and written in English by American and British scholars between 1966 and 2015. The investigation focused on the two terms’ conceptual environment, areas of usage, journals, and the organizations to which the authors were affiliated. First, we conclude that although some sociology researchers have attempted to create a sociological definition for the concept of discourse, sociologists are not its most active users. The same is true for ideology. These concepts have established niches in other disciplines (political science and history for “ideology,” and educational science and linguistics for “discourse”). Second, throughout the years, the field of discourse studies has become more diversified and fragmented than that of ideology. Third, the leading organizations in both fields are prestigious American and British universities, which indicates that discourse and ideology are elements of the intellectual elites’ language. Fourth, the concept of discourse was more frequently applied than that of ideology in the years 2010–2015, and we expect that it will remain popular among scholars in the next decade. As for ideology, we believe that new social challenges could foster the rediscovery of this concept in the near future.