• The strategic control of knowledge is a crucial element in the control of discourse understanding and, therefore, of discourse access and the criti- cal counterpower of oppositional reading and understanding.

I have two questions according to the usage of “therefore” in the text.

  • what is the meaning that therefore convoys in the context.
  • why is therefore set between two commas. Shouldn’t be like. ( ; therefore....../ . therefore.....
  • Because strategic control of knowledge is a crucial element in the control of discourse understanding, it is also therefore a crucial element in the control of discourse access. And also apparently the control of something else, but at that point the cited text just becomes meaningless gobbledegook in my mind. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 17:48
  • What comes after therefore is understood to flow logically from the first statement. If you control knowledge, you control debate. If you control debate, you control access to debate and you control the ability of people to read contrary opinions and to reach understandings that may differ from those held by those in power. If you can keep people in the dark you can control them. If you bludgeon them with jargon you can put them to sleep.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


Commas only mimic the pauses that occur in natural speech. There are few (if any) real grammatical rules that govern their use. You can create a sentence entirely without commas if you like, or add commas in unlikely places if you want to upset the reader. It's entirely a question of style.

The comma codifies a brief pause, while the semicolon and period indicate longer pauses (and possible changes in subject/tone). Again, while there are style guides that suggest certain patterns (to make the sentence more readable), it's fine to ignore these and punctuate the sentence as you see fit.

This example demonstrates an oratorical style that, by pausing before and after the "therefore", adds some measure of gravitas to the second part of the statement, imbuing it with extra significance. However the writer uses the conjunction "and" to link the first and second parts of the sentence -- possibly to imply the second is a natural consequence of the first, and beyond argument.

  • However punctuated, the sentence is meaningless. It is impossible to advise on the correct punctuation of such sentences because we do not know what ideas they are intended to convey. The sequence should be: what idea you want to communicate, what words convey that idea, how can punctuation make the import of those words clearer to the reader.
    – JeremyC
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 23:46
  • @JeremyC You don't like the sentence; I don't like the sentence. But it's pure hyperbole to call it meaningless -- the jargon is likely meaningful to someone, and in any case that's not the question that was asked.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 8:18

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