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Democracy and Radicalisation. Keywords for our times?. Raymond Williams 1976. Keywords:. Zeitgeist. Meanings reflecting the times The Last Enemy (BBC2 Sundays): “I’ve been away four years and everything has changed.”. Background to my research.

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democracy and radicalisation

Democracy and Radicalisation

Keywords for our times?

  • Meanings reflecting the times
  • The Last Enemy (BBC2 Sundays):

“I’ve been away four years and everything has changed.”

background to my research
Background to my research
  • The borders between langue and parole (or system and use).
  • Is this a real distinction?
  • How can we operate without a system?
  • How can a system both be stable and change over time?
  • Do we need the system to understand new forms and structures?
emergent meaning
‘Emergent meaning’
  • Previous studies:

1. The meaning of ‘water’ during the 1995 Yorkshire water shortage.

2. The nature of the apology according to news coverage of Tony’s Blair’s ‘apology’ for the Iraq war.

3. The creation of opposites in context.

this project keywords
This project – keywords
  • Words which seem to acquire positive or negative connotation in particular political climates and become absolute and assumed ‘good’ or bad’.

e.g. choice




theoretical assumptions
Theoretical assumptions
  • That texts can ‘have’ meaning to some extent;
  • That such meaning may be ideological, either reflecting the dominant ideologies of society or reflecting a minority view that is being fostered;
  • That readers are to a greater or lesser extent potentially influenced by this ideology.
pilot study
Pilot Study
  • Newspaper articles from ten year period 1998 – 2007
  • All articles from 5 newspapers: Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sun, The Times.
  • Focussing on choice, democracy, radicalisation and extremism
  • Quantitative: do they increase in frequency?
qualitative study
Qualitative study


  • Extract all occurrences of words with context (concordances)
  • Examine all occurrences for their semantic prosody (regular collocation)
  • Examine all occurrences for their grammatical properties
  • Examine all occurrences for their semantic properties
semantic prosody louw
Semantic prosody (Louw)
  • Not part of the denotation of a word, but like other connotations, associated with the word by frequency of co-occurrence.
  • E.g. radicalisation of Muslim youth
grammatical properties
Grammatical properties
  • Many possibilities here, including:

Determiners and adjectives

e.g. social democracy, a democracy

Grammatical role (Actor, Goal etc)

e.g. democracy is …

the US will bring democracy to…

semantic properties
Semantic properties
  • e.g. is the verbal origin of radicalisation evident in the context ?
  • Is democracy presented as a single, unified concept?
  • Are they measurable?
  • What metaphors are used?
  • Are opposites (or synonyms) being constructed?
democracy and radicalisation results
Democracy and radicalisation - results
  • Based on a comparison of only part of the available data – from June of 1998 and June of 2007.
  • To see whether there is any discernible difference between the two years
  • To assess the contextual meaning of these words at these two times
  • Nominalisation
    • Process presented as noun

e.g. transform (v) → transformation

    • No Actor/Goal

e.g. She transformed the room

It was a transformation

radicalisation 2
Radicalisation 2
  • Nominalisation
    • Process presented as noun

e.g. radicalise (v) → radicalisation

    • No Actor/Goal

e.g. Poverty radicalised the young Muslim

Muslim radicalisation (is increasing)

radicalisation 2007
Radicalisation 2007
  • Goals: mainly young, mainly Muslim
  • Actors: mainly absent
  • Determiners: mainly definite articles (the)
radicalisation 2007 contd
Radicalisation 2007 contd.
  • the radicalisationof Arab youth
  • the radicalisationof young men and women
  • in more extremism, radicalisationof Muslim students
  • the radicalisationof Palestinian society.
  • to the radicalisationof the anti-G8 scene.
  • the radicalisationof parts of the Muslim community.
  • the radicalisationof the British people
  • the radicalisationof Russia's Muslims
  • The radicalisationof students by Islamist groups on campus
radicalisation 2007 possessives self evident meaning and equivalence
Radicalisation 2007 - possessives, self-evident meaning and equivalence
  • His radicalisation
  • his brother's long process of radicalisation.
  • modern Islam's radicalisation
  • a sign of radicalisation
  • in danger of radicalisation.
  • the "fight against radicalisation and extremism".
  • The failure to engage and address the needs of modern Islam could result in more extremism, radicalisation of Muslim students, as well as a growing mistrust between Muslims and secular society, the director of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education claims
radicalisation 1998
Radicalisation (1998)
  • Some indefinite articles (a/an)
  • More Actors evident (i.e. the causes of radicalisation)
  • No possessives
  • Emphasis on process rather than product
  • Not unequivocally negative connotation
radicalisation 19981
Radicalisation (1998)
  • Over the past two weeks, thanks to the Decane offensive and the refugee crisis, there has been a radicalisation of Kosovo society at almost all levels.
  • The strongest stimulus to the radicalisation of the Macedonian Albanians will be a constant pressure-cooker of revolt and suppression in Kosovo.
  • The deep aftershocks resulted in a new radicalisation of the nationalist community, which in turn led to a record Sinn Fein vote in the 1997 general election
  • The three victims were buried yesterday in their home village, Dura, in a sea of green flags, showing allegiance to the radical Islamic movement Hamas - a vivid gauge of the steady radicalisation of the West Bank in the year since the collapse of the peace process.
radicalisation 1998 contd
Radicalisation (1998 contd.)
  • The politicisation of the cartoon? The radicalisation of American mainstream movies? A lovely idea if it were true, but it isn't.
  • The VW Lupo: a radicalisation of the SEAT Arosa which comes with the customary Volkswagen trimmings
  • "The English have always considered themselves as subjects, subordinate to the Establishment, rather than citizens. What happened this decade changed all that. It is still continuing, with the re-radicalisation of students, a formerly active body which had been dormant for 30 years."
types of democracy 1998
Types of democracy 1998
  • the Tories' conversion to 'Scottish democracy'.
  • in most enlightened democracies.
  • a modern democracy with a market economy.
  • a property owning democracy
  • in a liberal democracy
  • popular democracy
types of democracy 2007
Types of democracy 2007
  • We have transformed ourselves (…) into an inventive and fairly rich social democracy.
  • the Polish gay community learned to hide under communist rule and is continuing to hide in the new democracy.
  • Gordon Brown wants to encourage a "home-owning democracy".
  • Our leaders might be keen to impose Western democracy on oil-rich nations in the Middle East,
  • to create a "world-class democracy”
  • Finding out what goes on in open democracies?
metaphors democracy as organism
Metaphors – democracy as organism
  • Local democracyis dying on its feet (1998)
  • Other cancers in our democracy threaten more obviously (1998)
  • There can be few issues more central to the health of a democracy. (1998)
  • Equally, we believe our democracy would be healthier if churchmen spoke out more often on issues of principle and morality. (2007)
  • one of the world's youngest democracies is being ravaged by widespread gang violence (2007)
collocates of democracy
Collocates of ‘democracy’
  • peace and democracy and that violence is genuinely being given up for good.“ (1998)
  • principles of non-violence and democracy(1998)
  • human rights and democracy. (1998)
  • the principles of freedom, democracy and justice around the globe. (2007)
the quality of democracy 1998
The quality of democracy…(1998)
  • leaving our democracyless stable and a weak government inevitable
  • a need for moredemocracy,
  • Pakistan's democracy is a corrupt shambles


  • India is a democracy.
democracy as a unified concept
Democracy as a unified concept
  • He said: "Whoever voted to get rid of democracy?
  • we still have the nerve to sell ourselves as a democracy to the world.
  • Mr Blair challenged African leaders to embrace democracy in return for increased investment.
  • On the contrary, democracydemands that minorities must receive protection,
the opposites of democracy 1998
The opposites of democracy 1998
  • De-regulation applies to money, but not to you. As business and capital shrug off the remaining constraints of the post-war years, so the individual is confined to an ever-narrowing corridor of acceptable behaviour, at work, home, even in bed. In contrast to previous conformist social systems - like Scandinavian social democracy - there is no trade-off between shrinking personal liberty and economic security. The constraints on the person exist beside a financial system which believes that it is neither possible nor desirable to offer economic security and that those who fail to be competitive must be downsized
the opposites of democracy 2007
The opposites of democracy 2007
  • When did democracy end and racism start?
  • proof that democracy and Islam can co-exist and a future member of the European Union
  • Jeffries, L. (2003) 'Not a drop to drink: emerging meanings in local newspaper reporting of the 1995 water crisis in Yorkshire ', Text 23(4): 513-38.
  • Jeffries, L. (2007a) Textual Construction of the Female Body: A Critical Discourse Approach . Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Jeffries, L. (2007b) ‘Journalistic constructions of Blair’s ‘apology’ for the intelligence leading to the Iraq war’ in Sally Johnson and Astrid Ensslin (eds) Language in the Media: Representations, Identities, Ideologies London: Continuum.
  • Louw, B. 1993 ‘Irony in the Text or Insincerity in the Writer? The Diagnostic Potential of Semantic Prosodies’, in M. Baker, G. Francis and E. Tognini-Bonelli (eds) Text and Technology. In Honour of John Sinclair, John Benjamins, Amsterdam
  • Williams, R. (1976) Keywords Harmondsworth: Penguin.