Between Multiculturalism and Nationalism - A Discursive Construction of Britishness in theSpectatorin the Wake of the London Bombings
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In his interdisciplinary work Ideology (1998), Teun A. van Dijk proposes to study ideology as a cognitive, social and linguistic enterprise. Such an integrative approach is assumed to model interfaces between social structure and cognition through discourse. The notion of ideology it presupposes may be described as shared social representations (group self-schemata), which become a group's defining attributes, and govern its ideological expression in discourse. It seems that this approach can be productively applied to a study of ideological relations in the discourses of multicultural societies, such as Britain.In the wake of the London bombings in July 2005, the British rightwing quality weekly the Spectator published a series of articles raising alarming questions about the misguided ideological priorities of modern Britain, and envisioning a deepening crisis of national identity. According to the magazine, the heritage and values of mainstream British society are being endangered by the political promotion of multiculturalism. This in turn has instigated terrorist threats from Islamic extremists, who have been nurtured by the British welfare state and emboldened by its permissive policies. Thus the increasing ideological split between the militancy of the non-integrated Muslim minority in Britain and the decadence of national culture has become the subject of a number of articles. As a result, one of the pervasive discursive mechanisms emerging in the publication has been an ideological confrontation between "us" and "them"The aim of the present study is to survey the pragmatic and rhetorical devices used to construct the image of British society tied in a discursive struggle to define its modern identity-oscillating between the ideals of multiculturalism and the ideology of nationalism. The material for the study is taken from over fifteen articles that come from three subsequent issues of the Spectator published on 16, 23, and 30 July 2005. The methodological framework of the study draws on the research procedures of Critical Discourse Analysis accommodated to the analysis of ideological discourse in the press.
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