LINGUIST List 14.3482

Tue Dec 16 2003

Diss: Text/Corpus Ling: Pearce: 'Informalization...'

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  1. m.pearce, Informalization in UK General Election Propaganda

Message 1: Informalization in UK General Election Propaganda

Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 11:39:02 -0500 (EST)
From: m.pearce <m.pearceleeds.ac.uk>
Subject: Informalization in UK General Election Propaganda

Institution: University of Leeds
Program: School of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Michael Pearce

Dissertation Title: Informalization in UK General Election Propaganda:
1964-1997

Linguistic Field: Text/Corpus Linguistics 

Dissertation Director 1: Anthea Fraser Gupta

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis is a study of discursive change in a corpus of election
manifestos and party election broadcasts (PEBs) produced by the Labour
and Conservative parties in the period 1964-1997. The main focus is
'informalization': the process by which linguistic practices thought
of as belonging to the register of everyday conversation in the
private sphere are used in public settings for strategic purposes. A
related process of change is 'marketization', in which social domains
become colonized by the language of commodity production and
distribution.

'Informalization' and 'marketization' are terms particularly
associated with the work of the critical discourse analyst, Norman
Fairclough, whose conclusions about the extent to which public
discourse has been influenced by these processes are based on the
detailed analysis of a limited set of features in short texts or
textual extracts. This thesis supplements Fairclough's work by
offering a methodology which identifies 46 lexicogrammatical 'markers'
of informalization. These markers were selected using
empirically-based grammars of English (in particular, the Longman
Grammar of Spoken and Written English). The texts in the corpus were
then given a 'score' for each feature and compared against each other.
Through the large-scale surveying of the entire corpus using computer
concordancing, it can be shown how the parties differ in terms of
levels of formality, and what changes there are over time. Overall,
there was a general increase in informalization over time, and
Conservative texts were found to be more informal than Labour texts.
The findings are related to other aspects of the development of the
parties and their ideologies.

The thesis also offers 'discourse histories' of the manifesto and the
PEB, and considers the relationship between their shifting generic
make-up and the processes of informalization and marketization. There
are also several case-studies which allow a detailed exploration of
the textual manifestation of the markers. Indeed, a distinctive
feature of the analysis of informalization and marketization in the
thesis is this 'multiple perspective', which results in a richer
account of the data than would have been achieved with a single
approach.
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