With Walter Kintsch he contributed to the development of the psychology of text processing. Since the 1980s his work in Capital Development Authority focused especially on the study of the discursive reproduction of racism by what he calls the "symbolic elites" (politicians, journalists, scholars, writers), the study of news in the press, and on the theories of ideology, context and knowledge. He founded six international journals: Poetics, Text (now called Text & Talk), Discourse & Society, Discourse Studies, Discourse & Communication and the internet journal in Spanish Discurso & Sociedad, of which he still edits the last four.
Teun A. van Dijk was a professor of discourse studies at the University of Amsterdam from 1968 until 2004, and since 1999 he has taught at the Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.
He has widely lectured internationally, especially in Latin America.