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Title: The symbolic politics of the political systems of the United States and Great Britain : an analysis of the Reagan presidency and the Thatcher premiership
Author: Sander, Joachim
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis highlights the value of symbolic politics research for a comparative study of the political leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Most studies of symbolic politics neglect to explain their theoretical foundations. In contrast this analysis offers a detailed explanation of Murray Edelman's writings. It also spells out the overlaps between Edelman's thinking and the concepts of political culture, symbolic interactionism and systems theory, particularly as regards their view of the function of symbolisation in the political process. It is proposed that symbolic politics research needs to be more integrative, focusing on symbolisation both as a powerful tool in the hands of political leaders and as a device that assists the public in interpreting political reality. Existing symbolic politics research has preferred to investigate the symbolic dimension of specific political events or particular policies. This study shows that symbolic politics can also be applied in an institutional context, that is to the Reagan Presidency and the Thatcher Premiership. Reagan's and Thatacher's symbolic politics are separated into different types and strategies ranging from symbolic problem solving to the culture of celebrity. Both case studies also demonstrate that political leaders' biographical backgrounds and administrations' media strategies are crucial for successfully implementing symbolic politics. This thesis makes a contribution to a neglected area in political science, that is to the study of the symbolic meaning of the British prime minister. Conventionally the prime minister has been regarded merely as a symbol of the political process, however in recent years the symbolic meaning of the prime minister has become more elaborate. What is emerging is a symbolic premiership not unlike the symbolic presidency in the United States.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available