"Deconstructing the party-political discourses of change. A corpus-based analysis of American presidential rhetoric."

  • Christine Simone Sing (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


This paper explores the party-political representation of change in American presidential discourse. Taking the inaugural address as its database, the study proposes a corpus analysis of the discursive construction of change, tracing the conceptʼs importance from the beginnings of presidential discourse to the present. For this purpose, the corpus was split into a 19th century sub-corpus and a corpus including addresses from the onset of the 20th century up to Obamaʼs inaugural. In order to deconstruct the specific party-political understandings of change, the data were further subdivided into Republican and Democratic sub-corpora for each century. The construction of change is investigated on two levels of analysis, using a combined approach of quantitative and qualitative methods. The findings suggest that there are inconsistent conceptualisations of change, depending on a number of variables, including party-political differences. The qualitative analysis has produced three main types of change: recent change, on-going change and the need for future change. Interestingly, there is compelling evidence that these three categories can be linked to distinct realms of experience. While recent change tends to be associated with concrete political events, the invocation of future changes is typically linked to abstract political thought, for example. What is more, there is an important partypolitical dimension. Republican presidents use change to denote concrete political developments to a significantly larger extent than their Democratic counterparts, who, in contrast, conceive of change chiefly in an abstract way. The quantitative results demonstrate the ever-increasing pervasiveness of the concept of change throughout the time span covered, again revealing party-political differences.
Period4 Jul 20126 Jul 2012
Event titleCADAAD Critical approaches to discourse analysis across disciplines
Event typeUnkonwn
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602008 English studies
  • 602004 General linguistics