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Title: Selling the self : the discursive construction of identities in the first UK televised Prime Ministerial debates
Author: Fisher, Anthony
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2013
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The 2010 general election witnessed the UK's first ever televised pre-election leaders' debates, thereby heralding the introduction of a new form of mediated political discourse, in an instant changing the face of British electoral politics for good. The present study interrogates these debates, focusing specifically on the self-presentation work evident in the contributions of the three participating party leaders, in their attempts to construct credible and likable identities in their talk and discourse. Working with a broadly post structuralist understanding of discourse and identity, the study asks how the leaders construct the various identities evident in their discourse, what kinds of resources are drawn upon the process, and how the resulting identities might be consequential both for television audiences, and for the evolution of political discourse more generally. The study considers the construction of identities as individual, relational and collective phenomena, utilizing a pluralistic, mixed-methods approach. It incorporates the use of corpus tools alongside more traditional, fine-grained discourse analysis. The qualitative analysis offered draws upon the insights of scholarship conducted in a range of research traditions, including social and discursive psychology, self-presentation research, membership categorization analysis (MeA), face research, and narrative analysis. The study investigates not only how identities are constructed, contested and defended during the debates, but also the significance of the identity work observed in terms of political marketing, and the growth of perception politics. Some suggestions are made regarding the potential usefulness of the findings in terms of critical language awareness development in educational contexts, and the study concludes with a consideration of the next debates, and the future of electoral politics in the United Kingdom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available