Discursive Strategies of Dominance: How Publics Are Homogenized
Scholars have been noting for many years the increasingly polyphonous, fractured and heterogeneous discourses that have gained public visibility in this era of the internet, “superdiversity” and “globalization.” Yet, if we look around the world, we see many recent processes – equally remarkable – that move in a different direction: There is a closing down and homogenization of mass mediated political talk. Right wing parties in power in many European countries have destroyed opposition newspapers, TV outlets, billboards, internet sites. Often these discourses gain their authority as “the voice from nowhere” by aligning with the figure of the nation and claiming to speak for “everyone” who is “really” part of the nation. The making of boundaries and exclusions follows, producing a homogenization of mass media, often controlled by the state. I explore the discursive and rhetorical strategies with which this happens; my analyses come from Hungary and Poland. The goal is not simply to diagnose the situation, as many observers have done, but to identify the sociolinguistic processes that are operating and have made these discursive moves possible.
Susan Gal is Mae and Sidney G. Metzl Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, a member of the Anthropology and Linguistics Departments. She is the author of Language Shift, and co-author of The Politics of Gender after Socialism. As co-editor of Languages and Publics: The Making of Authority, and in numerous articles, she has written about the political economy of language, multilingualism and empire, and the semiotics of gender and other forms of differentiation. Her continuing ethnographic work in Eastern Europe explores the relationship between linguistic practices, semiotic processes and the construction of social life.
The John J. Gumperz Memorial Lecture honors the life and work of John J. Gumperz, the founder of interactional sociolinguistics and a longtime member of the LISO community.
Sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center; the Mellichamp Language and Globalization Lecture Series; and the IHC’s Language, Interaction, and Social Organization RFG (LISO)