Critical Discourse Analysis of Clinton's Orations at Presidential Elections in 2016

By Dehghan, Masoud; Vahabian, Behnaz | Journal of Political Studies, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

Critical Discourse Analysis of Clinton's Orations at Presidential Elections in 2016


Dehghan, Masoud, Vahabian, Behnaz, Journal of Political Studies


Introduction

The concept of discourse has entered last decades of 20th century as the result of attempts made by thinkers such as Norman Fairclough, Michel Foucault and Ernest Laclau. linguists used this concept mostly for the analysis of units beyond sentence. Discourse analysis is an interdisciplinary field affected by different humanities studies, in particular, linguistics, philosophy and Lacanian Psycho-analysis. In discourse analysis tradition, there are different schools and this study has derived benefit from Laclau and Mouffe perspective (1980). Discourse theory consists of stating and understanding processes during which meaning in social-political actions is temporarily stabilized. In other words, in discourse theory this fact is emphasized that all concepts are "empty signifier"; namely, according to the basic assumption, the post-structures have various and numerous meanings, but in a semantic system, they are in the light of a nodal point, a signifier that lies in the of a specific discourse that no referent, but gives the ultimate meaning to other signifiers inside that discourse and they are given meaning. From the perspective of discourse analysis, that a certain signifier means what, is in direction association with the concept of hegemony, that is, the social group that has the social group that has the accepted power and common values in the society, determines the ultimate meaning of concepts. Thus, we should understand that how a given discourse is related to social formation (Laclau and Mouffe, 1980). Also, the concept of articulation is of much importance. Articulation means specific discourse for getting other meaning signifier systems and giving new meanings and identities to them, for example if an Islamic discourse attempts to enter the liberal discourse concepts in its semantic framework and give new meanings to them, articulation has happened. Therefore, given the point that we deal with combined discourses, we should know what concepts have been taken from other discourses. Considering above introduction, given the point that in modern political discourse, this article, especially the speeches of Hillary Clinton. The candidate of democrat party in the elections of the united states, it is clear that the policy-makers and counselors have adjusted and formulated the speeches based on linguistic and mental principles of language and this paper aims to explain and analyze the approaches and points from a linguistic point of view related to Laclau and Mouffe (1980).

Review of literature

Van Dijk (1993) in an article entitled "principles of critical discourse analysis" discuss some principles of critical discourse analysis, such as the explicit sociopolitical stance of discourse analysts, and a focus on dominance relations by elite groups and institutions as they are being enacted, legitimated or otherwise reproduced by text and talk. One of the crucial elements of this analysis of the relations between power and discourse is the patterns of access to (public) discourse for different social groups. Theoretically it is shown that in order to be able to relate power and discourse in an explicit way, we need the 'cognitive interface' of models, knowledge, attitudes and ideologies and other social representations of the social mind, which also relate the individual and the social, and the micro- and the macro-levels of social structure. Finally, the argument is illustrated with an analysis of parliamentary debates about ethnic affairs.

Dehghan (2006) in his M.A. thesis entitled The Discourse of Democracy after 11th of September has analyzed the September 11th attacks based on CDA approach and has studied the role and importance of words as the most important tools for transferring ideology, views and judgements about discourse analysis. He has studied and analyzed the speeches of western leaders and has collected and extracted themes and sub-themes such as terror, linguistic self-magnification, generalization, enemy construction, positioning , and dualism. …

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