What I’m Reading: Political Discourse Analysis

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I am currently studying Religion in Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University. As part of the literature course, our professor has asked us to write a bibliographical review of sources that we may use for our thesis. I have chosen to write my thesis on media and its effect on immigration policy. Therefore, I will be reviewing articles and books that focus mostly on the refugee crisis sparked in part by the Arab Spring movement in 2011.

Isabela and Norman Fairclough collaborated on Political Discourse Analysis: A Method for Advanced Studentsa new theory of discourse analysis that looks at politics as a deliberative method of creating action and not just a moral stance (Fairclough and Fairclough 2013).

Politics have become a major part of deciding how the world works. In Western, democratic governments, politics has been overtaken by the wishes of powerful people over the minority (Fairclough and Fairclough 2013); many times, decisions are made for expediency’s sake.  However, deliberative politics “involves weighing reasons in favour of one or several proposals and reasons against” (Fairclough and Fairclough 2013: 26). This may seem as though it is happening in democratic societies, but it is often difficult to do so and so, quick decisions take precedence over deliberative ones.

Fairclough and Fairclough argue that deliberative political decisions are only achieved when it “involves the participation of all those who will be affected by the decision,” which in turn “makes decisions legitimate and binding” (2013: 30).

Political discourse analysis is important for my thesis because it is important to see how political speech directly affects society, especially the speech during the refugee crisis and the Arab Spring movement directly before it.

photo: John Hain

#weekendcoffeeshare: The Return

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It has been a long time since I have written a blog post. I feel enormously guilty. I feel as though I haven’t had friends over since April, and here we are. I would be shoving delicious treats your way, asking if you needed anything else. I’m still drinking my Wedding Breakfast tea; 250g makes a lot of cups of tea.

So, how have you been? I should give my excuses, but it’s been a mix of depression, lack of motivation and actually a very busy summer. I went to Iceland! I started my second year at the high school at which I currently teach (I finally have a classroom). And I watched the world of politics unfold.

First off, Brexit. What a miserable outcome for this. I’m anxious to see how it will play out. Theresa May as been handed a messy, uncertain mix of things that she must turn out to satisfy the Exit voters, but not alienate the Remainers. Though, honestly, what does she care about the Remainers? They’re probably all Eurotrash™ anyway. (Those last lines were sarcasm, by the way, in case it doesn’t read well through the screen.)

The US elections are just not at all in any shape to be commentated on, and yet, here we are, a little over 8 weeks until the elections, commentating. The era of False Equivalency must end: Hillary Clinton is in no way as bad as Trump, and the fact that her email ‘scandal’ is as bad as anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth. Trump is unfit to be president, and it is disheartening that there is any fight between Clinton and Trump.

I have been itching to write, and I shall go back to my weekly Friday reads and these Weekend Coffee Shares, and I am pleased to be back. So hello again, and my door is open again. I hope you missed me as much as I missed you! – SDM

NB: Read the other WCS posts here!

#atozchallenge: The American Zeitgeist

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So what influence then, shall America have on the future of the Earth? How will America’s past determine the path it takes?

One of my favourite essays in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by AL Franken describes the love he has for America as an “adult” love, whereas some people have a “child-like” love. The adult version is taking the bad with the good, and focussing on bettering America, whilst the child version is insisting that America could do no wrong and how dare one criticise our lovely nation.

As we stand at the beginning of a new election season, where so much is at stake, how should we process the last eight years under an historic presidency? I feel as though President Obama has tried his hardest with the recalcitrant children [aka Congress] in his charge. I won’t pretend that some of his broken promises don’t disappoint me, but I am sure we would be in a much worse place with our other choices. Will this election prove the same? Or will Trump destroy the fragile ecosystem that has been built after President George W Bush’s disastrous time in office? Will Clinton prove as moderate as her husband, overly considerate with conciliatory gestures towards a mean-spirited Republican base?

This election cycle has been the most exciting since 2008. We Americans have an extraordinary chance to create a new country, or engulf it in nationalistic uber-capitalism. It has never been more important to stay informed and ready to vote. I wish us luck.

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Thank you for following me this far! All the posts from this year’s A to Z challenge can be found here.

Photo by unsplash

#atozchallenge – Xenophobia: What it Looks Like Around the World

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America has always been seen as a refuge for the disenfranchised. The Statue of Liberty states:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

We should be as welcoming as we promise, but of course we are not. We still struggle with issues of integration and hatred of the unknown. It is not surprising that we have issues with Muslim refugees; though we are loathe to say it, we have been fighting in mostly Muslim regions for a very long time. Mostly, however, America still struggles with race relations: Syrian refugees have the ire of some people now, but it is Black people (and sometimes Latino and Asian people) who have it very difficult.

In Germany, it is the Turkish population that faces daily difficulties with integration. Germany is in the forefront of the current refugee crisis, but its past problems have come back to haunt it. Without better integration, disenfranchised people will turn to the haven of a promised land.

In France, being a person of colour is difficult. Though it is strictly forbidden to ask about race, ethnicity and religion for any national census, France is socially divided by race anyway. I wrote about my issues with France in a previous post.

Personally, I have dealt with discrimination in all three of these countries, but on a much lower scale than recent immigrants. I’m not sure what integration will look like as we continue, especially with the continuing refugee crises from Syria, Eritrea and countries in Northern Africa. However, I hope that we can turn our attentions to the plights of minority without ire. – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by David Mark. Poem excerpt from ‘The New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus.

#atozchallenge: Winner Takes All

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When Cameron and the Conservative Party became the majority in the 2015 elections, there was an uproar. How did an unpopular Prime Minister keep his place? Blame was meted out: Ed Miliband was a milquetoast leader with no teeth; the Scottish National Party dominated; the Labour Party had no good ideas. The Conservative Party took 330 seats, an absolute majority.

But then, the numbers came out, and things became curiouser and curiouser. The Conservative Party had actually only won 36.8% of the vote, whilst Labour got 30.5%. And here is where first past the post voting breaks apart: No matter how slim your majority, when you win, you win everything.

If this were a two-party system, this would make sense. But the United Kingdom has multiple parties, with different stakes in the system.  In the United States, we are stuck with two parties because that is how it has always been. (I hope that changes, I honestly do.)

In the UK, one might be better served by the Single Transferable Vote system, whilst the United States might be better served by the Alternative Vote (also called the Instant Run-Off). If we are stuck with the systems we have now, we will see two parties that are dissimilar enough to anger the constituency, but never enough to change. – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s challenge, check them out here.

Photo by Harry Lustig

#atozchallenge: Vote of No Confidence

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When I go to the gym, I generally watch C-SPAN whilst I’m on the treadmill. (I know, I know, you don’t have to say anything–I’m a politics wonk). I am struck by a few things: first, that C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2 are incredibly well-made television stations; second, holy crap senate and house meetings are boring; and finally, what, exactly, have we hired our representatives to do?

Important meetings are very sparsely attended. I realise that in an election season most representatives have shirked their duties to go and beg for resources back home, but the work of being a representative is not over, and should be just as diligently done at the beginning of the year as at the end.

And even in session, representatives should actually be working for their constituents, and not for whomever gave them the most money. I realise this is probably a pie-in-the sky dream, but as long as they are not working for us, we should stop voting them in. The issue is, of course, that not many people watch C-SPAN during their day. The fact that the sessions are boring and hard to follow is done purposefully. It is the same thing as teachers using specialised vocabulary to talk about their job. It makes one feel special; it’s using all your expertise and of course you want to show off. But it cuts off people that could probably help you or at least champion your cause.

Watch C-SPAN! Learn some stuff! Know what your representative is doing in your name. And if you don’t like what they’re doing, vote them out! – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts for this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by PDP

#atozchallenge: State of the (European) Union

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The goals of the European Union have morphed. From being the cure to extreme nationalism to a powerhouse economy, the European Union has shifted its targets. Whilst I am a proud European, I also understand the travails of bringing together 28 extremely proud countries with their own cultures, values and beliefs. But there are cracks appearing in the surface, and perhaps they have always been there.

The United Kingdom will vote on its Brexit the 23 of June. I shall be watching this, mostly scared. I called the UK home for many years, and if they remain in the EU, I will call it home again. Many of the arguments in the Leave and Remain camps focus on the economic salvation and-or disaster that might occur, depending on how Britain votes.

Perhaps the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union would do well to recall their original reasons for becoming a Union. Now, more than ever, Europe needs a strong front against the growing nationalist trends in the UK, France and even Germany. Europe is stronger together, and Britain’s grumbling about leaving is shaking the entire Union.

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s challenge, check them out here.

Photo by moerschy