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Tal om terror: säkerhetspolitisk retorik i Sverige och Ryssland hösten 2001
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aiming to facilitate the description and evaluation of rhetorical responses to security issues, a framework was developed for comparative analysis of oral and written presentations. The framework was applied on three speeches held by the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson and three speeches by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in the wake of the terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11 and the subsequent military operation in Afghanistan.

The framework was based on four narrative structures, referred to as images. The image of aggression was used to describe the speaker’s interpretation of a dramatic event, the image of threat to describe his consideration of the security threat and the image of securitisation to analyse solutions suggested in relation to the threat. The image of communication, finally, was used to describe relations between the speaker and his audience appearing in the speeches. Each image included an actor, an act or event, a referent object to the act and time and space. The images were analysed as discrete parts and also by an integrating approach. In the analysis, descriptions of the images were related to rhetorical tools, including logos, pathos, ethos, identification, vividness and agency.

The analyses revealed similarities and dissimilarities between the two speakers. As for similarities, Persson and Putin used similar topoi. Persson used democracy – terrorism whereas Putin preferred civilisation – terrorism/barbarism, and both used cooperation. To both speakers, the images of aggression and threat tended to appeal to pathos and identification, and the image of securitisation and communication to logos and ethos. As for dissimilarities, Persson relied on the UN whereas Putin offered direct help to the US operation. In Persson’s speeches, the predominant topos was cooperation, in Putin’s civilisation – terrorism/barbarism. Persson focused on democratic values, Putin on the fight against terrorism. Persson’s images were more elaborated and vivid, Putin’s more moderate. These dissimilarities were tentatively explained by the two speakers’ different individual styles and domestic situations and, most important, by the speakers’ different agency on the international arena.

In essence, the present framework, based on four discrete images, was found to be well-suited for cross-cultural analysis of rhetorical responses to security issues. The similarities exceeded the dissimilarities, which led to the conclusion that rhetoric of security politics may be defined as a discrete rhetorical genre. A bi-polar world view pervaded the rhetoric, preventing long-term solutions to security issues. Instead a focus on cooperation topoi, nuanced information, and the means and ends of securitisation was suggested.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för språkstudier , 2008. , 294 p.
Nordsvenska / Institutionen för litteraturvetenskap och nordiska språk, ISSN 0282-7182 ; 0282-7182
Keyword [en]
rhetorical criticism, securitisation, agency, identification, democratic rhetoric, rhetoric of security politics, Swedish and Russian rhetoric of counter-terrorism
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1892ISBN: 978-91-88466-73-0OAI: diva2:142327
Public defence
2008-11-15, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2008-10-24 Created: 2008-10-24 Last updated: 2013-07-31Bibliographically approved

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