Interpreting discourse: a critical discourse analysis of the marketing of an extreme right party: the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang
Moufahim, Mona (2008) Interpreting discourse: a critical discourse analysis of the marketing of an extreme right party: the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This thesis develops an in-depth understanding of a specific case at the intersection of extreme right politics, marketing and language. More specifically, the research focuses on a Flemish extreme right party, the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang which provides a rich site of enquiry for the analysis of political communications, marketing strategies and discursive processes. Critical discourse analysis of the verbal and visual elements of Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang publications reveals, on three levels, the strategic use of lexical, rhetorical and other linguistic devices to brand and differentiate the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang from other political parties. The thesis demonstrates that the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang manages to legitimate its political product by dismissing unfavourable features (such as racism and xenophobia), and repackaging them (as nationalist) for a wider audience as a ready-to-consume product that achieves electoral success. The main contributions of the thesis are fourfold. First, the research provides a marketing-related explanation of the success of the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang. The pervasiveness of the Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang's discourse in Belgian politics makes the analysis of the party interesting in its own right. The critical discursive analysis reveals the underlying market-orientation of the party and the methods and techniques that the party uses to communicate and persuade. Second, this research demonstrates that marketing can be used to advance an ideological discourse that places consumption in a central position in people's lives. The application of critical discourse analysis thus provides a novel and valuable contribution to the understanding of political marketing. Third, the thesis sets the stage for furthering understanding of how marketing is deployed with increasing sophistication outside its traditional, commercial domain, and, more specifically, in politics. Finally, critical discourse analysis has an emancipatory goal in uncovering ideologies, and providing a voice to the silenced and the oppressed. This thesis is located firmly within that tradition with political reflexivity implicit throughout.
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