James Paul Gee
International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction, Wiley-Blackwell
Publication year: 2015

The notion of “Big ‘D’ Discourse” (“Discourse” spelled with a capital “D”) is meant to capture the ways in which people enact and recognize socially and historically significant identities or “kinds of people” through well-integrated combinations of language, actions, interactions, objects, tools, technologies, beliefs, and values. The notion stresses how “discourse” (language in use among people) is always also a “conversation” among different historically formed Discourses (that is, a “conversation” among different socially and historically significant kinds of people or social groups). The notion of “Big ‘D’ Discourse” sets a larger context for the analysis of “discourse” (with a little “d”), that is, the analysis of language in use.