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The Discursive Construction of National Identity

The Discursive Construction of National Identity

Ruth Wodak
Rudolf de Cillia
Martin Reisigl
Karin Liebhart
Angelika Hirsch
Richard Mitten
J. W. Unger
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Discursive Construction of National Identity
    Book Description:

    How do we construct national identities in discourse? Which topics, which discursive strategies and which linguistic devices are employed to construct national sameness and uniqueness on the one hand, and differences to other national collectives on the other hand? The Discursive Construction of National Identity analyses discourses of national identity in Europe with particular attention to Austria.In the tradition of critical discourse analysis, the authors analyse current and on-going transformations in the self-and other definition of national identities using an innovative interdisciplinary approach which combines discourse-historical theory and methodology and political science perspectives. Thus, the rhetorical promotion of national identification and the discursive construction and reproduction of national difference on public, semi-public and semi-private levels within a nation state are analysed in much detail and illustrated with a huge amount of examples taken from many genres (speeches, focus-groups, interviews, media, and so forth).In addition to the critical discourse analysis of multiple genres accompanying various commemorative and celebratory events in 1995, this extended and revised edition is able to draw comparisons with similar events in 2005. The impact of socio-political changes in Austria and in the European Union is also made transparent in the attempts of constructing hegemonic national identities. Key Features:*Discourse-historical approach.*Interdisciplinarity (cultural studies, discourse analysis, history, political science).*Multi-method, multi-genre.*Qualitative case studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3735-5
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the Second, Extended Edition
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Austrians (James 1994) author Louis James writes: ‘When a Stone Age Austrian popped out of a glacier in Tyrol in 1991, he was claimed by the Italians as one of them. A learned commission established that maybe he was lying just over the border by a metre or two, and a television reporter inquired satirically why they didn’t just look at his passport’ (1994, p. 11).

    The moral of this story is that even after all those years in cold storage, the iceman (Ötzi) suffers from a certain confusion as to his identity, a...

  6. Chapter 2 The Discursive Construction of National Identity
    (pp. 7-48)

    Since the 1970s, the term ‘discourse’ has become common currency in an everyday research sense in a variety of humanities and social science disciplines, including the applied branches of linguistics. Because of the wide-ranging use of this term, a variety of meanings have been attributed to it (see Ehlich 1993, p. 145, and Ehlich 1994), which has led to considerable semantic fuzziness and terminological flexibility. In the following we will briefly describe the concept of discourse as it is currently employed in the context of the research activities carried out at the University of Vienna, which have also informed the...

  7. Chapter 3 On Austrian Identity: The Scholarly Literature
    (pp. 49-69)

    Academic literature on Austrian identity deals mainly with historical perspectives and attempts to prove the existence of an independent Austrian nation and a national identity as well as to document, by means of empirical quantitative surveys, how this identity is rooted in the Austrian mind (for example, Bruckmüller 1996 and 1994, Haller et al. 1996, Stourzh 1990, Reiterer 1988a, Zöllner 1988, Dusek, Pelinka and Weinzierl 1988, Kreissler 1984, Heer 1981). However, because this approach has scarcely considered social history or the history of everyday life, it has largely neglected to analyse everyday political culture or to interpret national consciousness as...

  8. Chapter 4 The Public Arena: Commemorative Speeches and Addresses
    (pp. 70-105)

    Classical rhetoric distinguishes three classes of genre: the judicial (genus iudiciale), the deliberative (genus deliberativum) and the epideictic (genus demonstrativum). According to the ideal-typical classification scheme, judicial oratory is focused temporally on the past, and thematically on justice or injustice, and its function is to accuse or defend. Deliberative rhetoric is associated with the future, thematically with expediency or harmfulness, and functionally with exhorting or dissuading. Finally, epideictic oratory is linked to the present, thematically to honor and disgrace and functionally to praise or blame (cf. Plett 1989, pp. 15f.).

    With the exception of Friedhelm Frischenschlager’s lecture ‘Austria in a...

  9. Chapter 5 Semi-Public Discussions: The Focus Group Interviews
    (pp. 106-145)

    A focus group, also called a group interview or group discussion, is in essence ‘a discussion among a number of participants on a certain topic predetermined by a moderator …, which serves to collect information’ (Lamnek 1989, p. 121). Whereas this method has not been widely used in social science, group interviews are common in market research to investigate consumer motivation and behaviour. In the German-speaking countries, this method was occasionally employed by the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research in the 1950s, and in Austria it has recently been used in the reception analysis of tabloid print media by Bruck...

  10. Chapter 6 Semi-Private Opinions: The Qualitative Interviews
    (pp. 146-185)

    As one of the aims of our study was to include ‘subjective’ aspects of the discursive construction of Austrian identity we carried out a number of topic-orientated qualitative interviews, to determine informants’ views, attitudes and levels of awareness. The interviews took place in a relatively relaxed and flexible setting, which enabled the interviewer to react to unanticipated turns in the conversation and provided ample opportunity for feedback and clarification of ambiguous points.

    Since the interviews were structured to resemble informal open-ended, private conversations there was little observable pressure to articulate statements conforming to group opinions or politically correct statements, as...

  11. Chapter 7 Conclusion: Imagined and Real Identities – the Multiple Faces of the homo nationalis
    (pp. 186-202)

    In this section we will tie together the key issues which have arisen from the analysis of our data in the light of the theoretical assumptions and hypotheses we outlined in the first chapter. We will first look at the content of the discursive constructs of national identities in general and of Austrian identity in particular, and then summarise the main strategies and forms of linguistic realisation.

    Over the past decade, the concept of nation as an imagined community has gained increasing importance in the relevant scholarly literature. The main objective of our study has been to identify this mental...

  12. Chapter 8 The ‘Story’ Continues: 1995–2008
    (pp. 203-245)

    In this chapter, we briefly discuss and summarise developments since 1995. We have selected three salient events and socio-political phenomena which characterise the period between 1995 and 2008 and which have had a strong impact on the construction of recent Austrian national identities.

    While we continue the discussion from the last chapter, it is important to emphasise specifically that ‘neutrality’, which was already considered to be obsolete, has made a surprising ‘comeback’ in the Austrian debates (see p. 202; see also Kovács and Wodak 2003). This development is tied to recent global crises and wars such as 9/11, the wars...

  13. Appendix 1: Speeches Studied in Chapter 4
    (pp. 246-247)
  14. Appendix 2: Speeches and Interviews Studied in Chapter 8
    (pp. 248-250)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-268)
  16. Index
    (pp. 269-278)