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Title: A vernacular rhetoric of anti-politics
Other Titles: Di fang xing zhi fei zheng tong zheng zhi xiu ci xue
Authors: Freeman, Danyal Jonathan
Department: Department of English
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: City University of Hong Kong
Subjects: Discourse analysis -- Political aspects
Communication in politics
Notes: CityU Call Number: P302.77.F74 2015e
vi, 331 pages : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2015.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 265-323)
Type: Thesis
Abstract: Linguistics has rigorously applied itself to studying political discourse, particularly through the predominant approach of critical discourse analysis, producing knowledge about how powerful participants like government use language in the service of power. Every powerful discourse spawns and struggles with counter-discourses of which the most democratically and quantitatively significant is the publics' largely unexamined vernacular discourse. The need to examine how ordinary people produce combative political discourse is now widely recognized, especially within the emancipatory and empowering manifesto of critical discourse analysis, but this approach largely speaks for itself and has rarely examined and not developed rigorous analytics for vernacular discourse. Few rhetorical, linguistic studies of vernacular political discourse exist at all, because applied linguistics has mostly developed unrhetorical and non-vernacular political discourse analytics that examine formal and rational language and argumentation. There is thus a need to examine vernacular rhetorics of politics but first a more pressing need to develop practicable discourse analytics for this. This thesis addresses this deficit with a case study of an unprecedented 2009 British political scandal which generated a vernacular rhetoric of anti-politics, through a grounded theory investigation of several thousand internet news comments written by the public. This publics' vernacular wholly debased politicians, their legitimizing rhetoric and parliament, and the contribution this thesis makes is twofold theoretical and practical. The first theoretical contribution proposes an ideological model of political discourse based on the tension between moralities and values in competing discourses. The second proposes a rhetorical model of vernacular rhetoric. These models interpret vernacular discourse as a carnivalesque struggle through which the public upends the discourse and institutions of formal politics primarily through inversion, negation, ridicule and grotesque realism. Their utility is practically demonstrated in the data analysis, and it is suggested they offer discourse analysis practicable semiotics of vernacular and especially divisive discourses.
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