Volume 3 (2) 2009


Diana MacCallum

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  • The much vaunted shift from ‘government’ to ‘governance’ in recent years involves (among other things) increased attention to the participation of ‘stakeholders’ in policy making, a trend affecting not only the actions of politicians but also the day-to-day practice of public servants.  In my field, urban/regional planning, this attention has led to a ‘communicative turn’ in the academy; planning practice is increasingly seen as discursive rather than technical.  This reframing leads to some significant tensions: between interactive processes and traditional forms of rationalist legitimacy; and between local aspirations and strategic concerns at other geo-political scales.  In this paper, I examine how these tensions were negotiated in one case of participatory planning, a meeting of a committee charged with recommending strategies to solve a perceived shortage of industrial land in a remote Australian town.  Using discourse-analytical methods derived from systemic functional linguistics, I describe the committee’s construction of a ‘common interest’ between the local and state levels, placing the discursive practices underlying this construction in a context of multi-scalar governance and power relations.

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Anna Ewa Wieczorek

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  • This paper aims at contributing to the general understanding of the way linguistic indicators of inclusion and exclusion operate in political discourse. Clusivity, a fairly recent phenomenon comprising various linguistic means of expressing inclusionary and exclusionary reference to the actors presented in a discursive representation of reality, rests on at least two conceptualisation schemata: a) that of a container, with its elements inside, outside, and somewhere near the borderline, and b) centre-periphery, with the elements being manoeuvred inwards and outwards (Wieczorek 2009). Social groups themselves are structured in terms of the container metaphor, having a boundary, a centre, and areas inside and outside. The speaker may intentionally impose boundaries demarcating ‘us’ and ‘them’ territories along three complementary and overarching dimensions (i.e. spatial, temporal and axiological), all of which are metaphorically conceptualised in terms of space. Time bears spatial properties of length and front-back orientation and axiological relations closeness and remoteness (cf. Lakoff and Johnson 1980). Cognitive processes involved in clusivity comprehension induce the addressee to locate various discourse elements inside and outside the deictic centre. This anchor point for conceptualisations, from its very nature, is largely dependent on ‘cognitive frames that embody conventional shared understandings of the structure of society, groups and relations with other societies’ (Chilton 2004: 56). Therefore metaphors are employed as both devices of intrinsic reason about the location of actors with relation to the deictic centre and underlying frames for the speaker’s linguistic choices.

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Carmen Sancho Guinda

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  • Within the framework of social constructivism, this article seeks to explore the role played by conceptual integration in the collective identification of an oppressed ethnic minority, Sister Nations, a gendered contemporary version of the traditional North-Amerindian extended family. To this end it examines significant examples from their poetic production-a repository of tribal storytelling agreed as a lingua franca of de-colonization by in-group members-and  focuses on its semantic impact at the ideational, interpersonal and textual levels, both from a propositional and procedural standpoint. Findings reveal two major types of blended spaces: spatio-temporal and personal, as well as the existence of a dual pragmatics of reconciliation and resistance acting as a pedagogical and vindicating strategy that maintains in-group cohesion and mediates between this Native collectivity and the domineering Euroamerican societies. Thus, blending contributes to poetic meaning, through which identities are constructed and disseminated, and proves to be an active agent of social change.

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Takonori Kawamata

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  • In, 1999 a severe accident happened at a nuclear fuel factory in Tokai Village, 130 km northeast of Tokyo.  The Tokai Village accident is the third most serious accident in the history of nuclear power, after the 1986 Chernobyl accident and the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.  Following this accident, Tokai village held 16 public briefing meetings.  The meetings were intended to reassure villages of the plants’ safety measures.  This analysis indicates that these meetings provided opportunities for corporate and governmental power to be legitimized.  Based on the minutes from three of the meetings and three types of publications after the accident, a critical discourse analysis was conducted.  The identities of victims and company and village officials are expressed in multiple ways.  Moreover an appraisal analysis involving concordancing and referencing to corpora was conducted using keywords in the Tokai Village Corpus.  This corpus is a compilation of various documents concerning the accident.  In this study, the rationale for the corpus construction and the selection of key words will be described together with the results from the keyword concordancing procedure.  These findings will be interpreted in light of the participants’ narratives.

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Claudia Ortu

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  • According to Bourdieu and Wacquant (2001) Trade Unions are one of the obstacles to the success of the neo-liberal project carried out by powerful social actors, international institutions and Governments.  Analysis of how Trade Unions are construed (Fairclough et al. 2002) by Governments is thus a necessary step in understanding language in new capitalism.  Because of the change of power in Great Britain from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown both Trade Unions and political commentators expected a change in the relationship between New Labour and the workers’ organisations.  However, analysis of Gordon Brown’s speech to the 2007 TUC annual conference shows that those expectations have not been fully met.  The conceptual framework for this analysis is Fairclough’s most recent one for Critical Discourse Analysis (2003, 2006), coupled with the Discourse Historical Approach (Wodak and Meyer 2001).  Text analysis is carried out using a pragma-dialectic approach to argumentation theory (Van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992) alongside the tools of systemic-functional grammar (Halliday 2004).  The interconnectedness of the linguistic data with other moments of the social practice is also discussed as the study claims a post-disciplinary (Jessop and Sum 2001) perspective.

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    12. Sayer, A.  (2001) For postdisciplinary studies: Sociology and the curse of disciplinary parochialism/imperialism.  In J. Eldridge et al. (eds.), For Sociology: Legacies and Prospects.  Durham: Sociology Press.  pp.83-91.
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    17. Wodak, R. and Meyer, M. (eds.) (2001) Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage.


Giuditta Caliendo & Elena Magistro

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  • Recent studies on the informative material made available to the general public by the European Union (Caliendo 2007, forthcoming in coll. with Piga; Magistro 2007a, 2007b, forthcoming) have shown that the community institutions and bodies notably draw from a variety of different genres and discursive practices to appeal to their audience. More specifically, the European Union (EU) benefits from orders of discourse that are generally found in communication in the commodity sector. The spread of consumer culture has affected the way public entities present and manage themselves, leading to a more commercial approach in terms of the objects they deal with (i.e. public products), the beneficiaries of these objects (i.e. customers), and the way public entities represent these objects and address such beneficiaries (i.e. the adoption of a promotional style). Hence, the public sector has lately been experiencing a process of commodification of social life, carrying elements of marketisation of public and institutional discourse (Fairclough and Wodak 1997).  Albeit critical research focusing specifically on EU informative documents is still at an early stage, the above-mentioned trends have been documented under many respects, looking at revealing instances of lexicon and grammar, as well as larger-scale discursive and visual elements. This paper intends to broaden investigations on the strategies and genres adopted by the EU to win consensus and promote its institutional structure. Attention is called to alternative tools supplementing the array of discursive devices and structures employed in EU brochures of comparable nature. In particular, focus will be placed on the ‘humanisation’ of the European Union, achieved by means of the incorporation of EU employees’ profiles in the Union’s informative material. The attribution of precise names, faces, roles and objectives to activity carried out at the European Union will be examined along with the social impact of such attribution discussed within the framework of critical discourse analysis.

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