Dr. Isabela Fairclough

Dr. Isabela Fairclough

School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Harrington Building, HA209

+44 (0) 1772 89 3677

Subject Areas: English and Linguistics

Isabela’s main research interests are in critical discourse analysis and argumentation theory (pragma-dialectics and informal logic), especially the modelling and critical evaluation of public deliberative practice and the study of argumentation in institutional contexts. Her recent publications (including Political Discourse Analysis, Routledge 2012) have investigated political discourse in the UK in the context of the post-2008 economic crisis.


Isabela is research active within the area of language, linguistics culture and society and is a member of the Research Unit for Speech and Language.

Full Profile

Isabela has a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Lancaster (2004) with a thesis on the contribution of public intellectuals to the legitimation of liberalism in the transition from communism in Eastern Europe. Between 1992-1993 she held a Horia Georgescu postgraduate research scholarship in linguistics and philosophy of language at the University of Oxford (Somerville College) and from 2008 to 2011 she was Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster.

Until 2010 Isabela was Associate Professor and Course Leader for the MA Programme in Discourse and Argumentation Studies at the University of Bucharest (Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures), teaching postgraduate modules in Pragma-Dialectics, Argumentation Theory, Critical Discourse Analysis and Media Discourse, and undergraduate modules in Semantics, Pragmatics and Critical Thinking. She was also a member of the Centre of Excellence for the Study of Cultural Identity and of the British Cultural Studies Centre at the University of Bucharest.

Between 2008-2013 Isabela worked on a number of Foundation/English for Academic Purposes Programmes at the Universities of Lancaster, Manchester and Central Lancashire, and was Course Leader for UCLan’s International Foundation Programme between 2011-2013. She has extensive experience of working as an IELTS and Cambridge Examiner for the British Council Bucharest (1997-2008) and IELTS Examiner and summer lecturer for the University of Manchester (2008-2015).


2004 Doctor of Philosophy, Linguistics, University of Lancaster
1988 Diploma de Licenţă, University of Bucharest, Major: English Language & Literature, Minor: French Language & Literature

Membership of professional and learned bodies

  • Member of ISSA (International Society for the Study of Argumentation)
  • Member of ILIAS (International Learned Institute for Argumentation Studies), Amsterdam
  • Member of PSA (Political Studies Association), UK
  • Member of BAAL (British Association for Applied Linguistics)
  • Member of IPra (International Pragmatics Association)


Fairclough, I. (2015). Evaluating policy as practical argument: the public debate over the first UK Austerity Budget. Critical Discourse Studies. DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2015.1074595

Fairclough, I. & Fairclough, N. (2013). Argument, Deliberation, Dialectic and the Nature of the Political: A CDA Perspective. Political Studies Review 11 (3), 336-344.

Fairclough, I. & Fairclough, N. (2012). Political Discourse Analysis, London: Routledge.

Fairclough, I. & Fairclough, N. (2011). Practical reasoning in political discourse: the UK government’s response to the economic crisis in the 2008 Pre-Budget Report, Discourse & Society 22(3), 243-268.

More publications

Full list of publications on at


Research Activities

In Political Discourse Analysis (Routledge 2012) and other recent publications, Isabela has focused on the analysis of practical reasoning and deliberation in political texts (policy documents, parliamentary debates, online discussion forums). She has developed the analytical framework of critical discourse analysis by drawing on argumentation theory and on John Searle’s (2010) theory of the construction of social/institutional reality.

Isabela is particularly interested in the ‘argumentative turn’ in policy studies, in developing a systematic method for the evaluation of policy argumentation, as well as in redefining political/social science concepts (‘imaginaries’, ‘strategies’, ‘legitimacy’, ‘framing’) from an argumentative perspective. She is working on the development of a dialectical profile of questions for the evaluation of practical reasoning in conditions of uncertainty and risk, grounded in a critical rationalist conception of reasonableness. Her current concerns are the public debates on austerity, higher education, climate and energy (in particular shale gas/fracking).


Isabela is currently involved in the research project ‘Practical argumentation in the European energy and climate debates’ (2015-2017). Principal Investigator: Dr Marcin Lewinski, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, New University of Lisbon.

She has taken part in several projects funded by the National Council for Scientific Research in Higher Education (CNCSIS) in Romania, on post-1989 institutional modernization, European identity and translation as cultural mediation.

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

Current undergraduate teaching

LG2112 Framing the News
LG2104 Semantics & Pragmatics
LG3114 Discourse & Argumentation
LG3992 English Language & Linguistics Dissertation

Postgraduate teaching

PhD Workshops in Critical Discourse Analysis and Argumentation Theory on doctoral programmes at the Universities of Aalborg (September 2011), Birmingham (March 2013), Helsinki (October 2013), Tampere (November 2013), Napoli (December 2013), Umea (May 2014).

Isabela is currently one of the school’s Research Degree Tutors and is supervising postgraduate students in the area of social policy and media discourse.

External Activities

International Fellow for the Open Society Foundation, CARTI Project (Central Asia and Caucasus Research and Training Initiative)



Argumentation in critical analysis of social and institutional change. The public debate on universities in the UK, First European Conference on Argumentation ( ECA): Argumentation and Reasoned Action. New University of Lisbon, 9-12 June 2015 (keynote).

The 2010 Austerity Now debate in the UK. Grounding normative and explanatory critique in evaluation of practical argumentation. Conference on The Discourse of Austerity: Critical Analyses of Business and Economics across Disciplines. Newcastle University, 3-4 September 2013 (keynote).

Political Imaginaries and Strategies for Action: the ‘Big Society’. University of Hull, English at Scarborough Guest Speaker Research Seminar Series, 11 April 2013 (invited speaker)

Political imaginaries and the structure of practical arguments’, Argumentation 2012 Conference. Forest Wake and Amsterdam Universities, Venice 26-28 June 2012 (invited speaker).

Political Discourse Analysis. David Cameron’s Speech at the Manchester Party Conference of October 2011, Workshop on Analysis of Political Discourse, Centre for the Study of Culture and Politics. Swansea University, 28 October 2011 (invited speaker).

Analyzing practical reasoning in political discourse, Conference on Analyzing Discourse and Argumentation Today: Contemporary European Trends. Tel-Aviv University, 5-6 June 2011 (keynote).


Deontic reasons, risk and the concessive logic of conductive arguments in the debate over shale gas development in the UK. ARGAGE (Argumentation & Language) Conference. Lausanne, 9-11 September 2015.

To frack or not to frack, that is the question. The decision against exploratory drilling in Lancashire as a case of deliberation in institutional contexts. Inaugural Conference on Cultural Political Economy. Lancaster, 1-2 September 2015 (with N. Fairclough).

An argumentative perspective on framing. Policy conflict and framing in the Roşia Montană case. The 65th Annual Conference of the Political Studies Association. Sheffield, 31 March-1 April 2015 (with I. D. Mădroane).

A dialectical profile for the evaluation of practical arguments. The 8th Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation. Amsterdam, 1-4 July 2014.

An argumentative approach to policy ‘framing’. Competing ‘frames’ and policy conflict in the Roşia Montană case. The 8th Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA). Amsterdam, 1-4 July 2014 (with I. D. Mădroane).

Policy 'framing' from an argumentative perspective. A contribution to framing theory. The 9th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference (IPA). Wageningen, 3-5 July 2014 (with I. D. Mădroane).

Rationalisations and Persuasive Definitions. An Argumentative Perspective on Deception and Manipulation in Discourse. First Global Conference on Deception, Inter-Disciplinary.Net. Oxford, 17-19 July 2014.

A Dialectical Profile for the Evaluation of Policy Arguments. A contribution to the argumentative turn in policy analysis, 8th International Interpretive Policy Conference (IPA). Vienna, 3-5 July 2013.

Imaginaries, strategies and arguments. The ‘Big Society’ as goal and means in the government’s strategy for dealing with the crisis, Lancaster University CPERC (Cultural Political Economy Research Centre) Conference ‘Never Waste a Crisis’. Morecambe, 1-2 November 2012.

Focusing Critical Discourse Analysis on analysis of argumentation. Imaginaries, strategies and the structure of practical arguments, 7th International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA). Tilburg, 5-7 July 2012 .

Ethics and Social Critique: Evaluation of Practical Argumentation in Political Discourse. International Conference on Ethics and Discourse in Historical Perspective. Montpellier, 15-16 April 2011 (with N. Fairclough).

Practical Reasoning in Political Discourse. Moral and prudential arguments in the debate over bankers’ bonuses in the British press, 7th International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA). Amsterdam, 29 June - 2 July 2010.

Imaginaries and the Cognitive-Motivational Account of Practical Reasoning’, CPERC-Cesagen-Sociology Workshop ‘Imaginaries: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives’. Lancaster, 14 June 2010.

Argumentation Theory in CDA. Analyzing Practical Reasoning in Political Discourse, EUROQUAL Conference, International Perspectives on Qualitative Research. London, 4-6 May 2010.


Analyzing and evaluating the 'Austerity Now' debate in the British Press. University of Umea (Sweden), 22 May 2014.

Political imaginaries and strategies for action: the Big Society. Universita degli Studi di Napoli (Italy), 17 December 2013.

Evaluating argumentation in texts: Dialectical profiles for practical arguments and the 'Austerity Now' debate in Britain. University of Tampere (Finland), 1 November 2013.

Evaluating argumentation in texts: Dialectical profiles for practical arguments and the 'Austerity Now' debate in Britain. University of Helsinki (Finland), 29 October 2013.

Social Media  (includes complete list of publications – see CV link)


Research Gate