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Political Discourse

Hartmut Wessler


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In general usage, political discourse comprises all forms of communication in and by political institutions or actors and all communication with reference to political matters. Thus, political public relations, both internal and external, news, commentary, film, talk shows, citizens’ everyday talk about politics etc. are all sites of political discourse. Different sites follow different rules of selection and construction of political reality, including, for example, news management techniques, news values, frames of interpretation, and heuristics of political judgment. General usage also acknowledges the fact that political discourse is often thematically structured, as in reference to “globalization discourse,” “abortion discourse,” and so on. In addition to such general usage, there are two prominent, and opposing, strands of theorizing that feature more specific concepts of political discourse: the normative discourse theory of democracy and public communication associated with, among others, German philosopher →  Jürgen Habermas on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a broad field of theoretical approaches originating in French philosophy and sociology that center around social and political functions of discursive practices (→  Discourse Analysis ). In the first, normative , tradition, political discourse is characterized by the attempt to convince others through rational ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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