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DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF THE WRITTEN ELECTORAL MATERIALS FROM THE 7th PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN IRAN

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DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF THE WRITTEN ELECTORAL MATERIALS FROM THE 7th PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN IRAN

ABSTRACT

          The term discourse analysis has come to be used with a wide range of meaning which cover a wide range of activities. There are many existing approaches to the study of language. One of them which this study is based upon, is critical discourse analysis (CDA). This approach grew out of work in different disciplines in the 1960s and early 1970s, including linguistics, semiotics, psychology, anthropology and sociology. CDA analyses social interactions in a way which focuses upon their linguistic elements, and which sets out to show up their generally hidden determinants in the system of social relationships, as well as hidden effects they may have upon that system. Since CDA is not a specific direction of research, it does not have a unitary theoretical framework. Therefore, in this research project, in order to overcome the potential weaknesses of any single method, a critical linguistic analysis will be adopted from some of the most influential linguists in the field to analyse the formal linguistic features of the written electoral materials from the 7th presidential election in Iran, to explain discourse structures in terms of properties of social interaction and especially social structure, and to focus on the ways discourse structures enact, conform, legitimate, reproduce or challenge relations of power and ideology in society.

 

 

 

۲۴۰ صفحه  فایل ورد فونت ۱۴ منابع دارد قیمت:۴۰۰۰۰ تومان

 

پس از پرداخت آنلاین میتوانید فایل کامل این پروژه را دانلود کنید

 اگر مطلب مورد نظر خود را در این سایت پیدا نکردید میتوانید از قسمت سفارش پروژه جدید کار تحقیقی خود را به ما سفارش دهید

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

  1. To help correct a widespread underestimation of the significance of language in the production, maintenance, and change of social relations of power in Iran.
  2. To refer to the order of discourse of the society as a whole, which structures the orders of discourse of the various social institutions in a particular way.
  3. To show that orders of discourse are ideologically harmonized internally or (at the societal level) with each other.
  4. To stress both the determination of discourse by social structure, and the effects of discourse upon society through its reproduction of social structures.
  5. To examine the relationship between discourse and sociocultural change.

So this research project aims to answer the following questions:

  1. What were the formal textual features of the conservatives’ and reformists’ discourses at the 7th presidential election?
  2. How did their discourses and strategies change and why?
  3. What were the ideologies behind the discourse of each group?
  4. What was the relationship between language of each party and power?

SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY

There are many existing approaches to the study of language (e.g. linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, cognitive psychology, etc.) but while each of them has something to contribute to critical language study, they all have major limitations from a critical point of view.

The critical discourse analysis upon which this study is based, does not adhere to any particular approach. It is similar to a qualitative research method in that it deals with non-numerical data and can only be validated by other researchers examining the same data.  However, its similarity can only be detected to a certain point because a qualitative research method is either synthetic or holistic, whereas critical linguistics is analytic in nature.  A qualitative method on content analysis is rejected on the grounds of its inability to get beneath the textual surface where the crucial meanings lie.  So in this research a critical linguistic analysis will be adopted from some of the most influential linguists in the field (in order to overcome the potential weaknesses of any single method) including Fairclaough (1989, 1992, 1995), Fowler (1991) and van Dijk (1981, 1985) to :

  1. Study the theoretical aspects of the subject i.e. explanation and definition of the concepts of ideology, power, discourse, discourse analysis, order of discourse, critical discourse analysis, etc.
  2. Study the descriptive aspects of the subject, i.e. giving a systematic presentation of a procedure for critical discourse analysis; setting out a view of interrelationship of language and society; illustrating the place of language in society, and showing that language connects with the social through being the primary domain of ideology, and through being both a site of, and a stake in, struggles for power.
  3. Study the analytic aspects of the subject, i.e. analysing the formal textual features of their statements, press interviews and electoral speeches and manifestoes of the two main candidates for presidency – Khatami and Nategh Noori and their main supporters.

As the primary sources of the present study, the written electoral materials such as the speeches and manifestoes published in newspapers and the published interviews and debates of the candidates, and as the secondary sources the speeches, statements and articles of other politicians as well as the editorials of the newspapers regarding the presidential election, from the 8th of May, 1997 when the Council of Guardians announced the names of the eligible candidates upto the last day of election (23rd of May, 1997) would be taken into consideration.

Time period required to complete the research project: Approximately two years.

Field work: No specific field work is required in this research project.

Place/libraries where research work is to be carried out: In order to establish a good, rich theoretical framework for the study, I have to visit and search so many libraries and universities such s American centre library, British council library, library of Delhi University, library of JNU (all located in Delhi) as well as the library of Panjab University, Changidarh.

          Since this research project aims to analyse the texts from the seventh presidential election in Iran, and as per the recommendation of the committee I have co-opted a co-supervisor from Iran in my research work, therefore for collecting the relevant materials as well as visiting my co-supervisor I also have to visit Iran.

PROPOSAL

Background of the Study: The 1970s saw the emergence of a form of discourse and text analysis that recognized the role of language in structuring power relations in society.  At that time, much linguistic research elsewhere was focused on formal aspects of language which constituted the linguistic competence of speakers which could theoretically be isolated from specific instances of language use (Chomsky, 1957).  Where the relation between language and context was considered, as in pragmatics (Levinson, 1983), with a focus on speakers’ pragmatic / socio-linguistic competence, sentences and components of sentences were still regarded as the basic units.  Much socio-linguistic research at the time was aimed at describing and explaining language variation, language change and the structures of communicative interaction, with limited attention to issues of social hierarchy and power (Labov, 1972; Hymes, 1972).  In such a context, attention to texts, their production and interpretation and their relation to societal impulses and structures, signalled a very different kind of interest (de Beugrande and Dressler, 1981).  The work of Kress and Hodge (1979) and Wodak (1989) serve to explain and illustrate the main assumptions, principles and procedures of what had then become known as critical linguistics.

Kress (1990 : 84-97) gives an account of the theoretical foundations and sources of critical linguistics.  By the 1990s the label critical discourse analysis came to be used more consistently with this particular approach to linguistic analysis.  Kress (1990 : 94) shows how critical discourse analysis by that time was ‘emerging as a distinct theory of language, a radically different kind of linguistics’.  Many of the basic assumptions of critical discourse analysis that were salient in the early stages, and were elaborated in later development of the theory, are articulated in Kress’s (1989) work.

Fowler et al. (1979) has been referred to in order to ascertain the early foundations of critical linguistics.  Later work of Fowler (1991, 1996) shows how tools provided by standard linguistic theories (a 1965 version of Chomskyan grammar, and Halliday’s theory of systemic functional grammar) can be used to uncover linguistic structures of power in texts.  Not only in news discourses, but also in literary criticism Fowler illustrates that systematic grammatical devices function in establishing, manipulating and naturalizing social hierarchies.

Fairclough (1989) sets out the social theories under planning critical discourse analysis, and as in other early critical linguistic work, a variety of textual examples are anlaysed to illustrate the field, its aims and methods of analysis.  Later Fairclough (1992, 1995) and Chouliariki and Fairclough (1999) explain and elaborate some advances in critical discourse analysis, showing not only how the analytical framework for investigating language in relation to power and ideology developed, but also how critical discourse analysis is useful in disclosing the discursive nature of much contemporary social and cultural change.  Particularly the language of the mass media is scrutinized as a site of power, of struggle and also as a site where language is apparently transparent.  Media institutions often purport to be neutral in that they provide space for public discourse, that they reflect states of affairs disinterestedly, and that they give the perceptions and arguments of the newsmakers.  Fiarclaugh shows the fallacy of such assumptions, and illustrates the mediating and constructing role of the media with a variety of examples.

Van Dijk’s earlier work in text linguistics and discourse analysis (1977, 1981) already shows the interest he takes in texts and discourses as basic units and social practices.  Like other critical linguistic theorists, he traces the origins of linguistic interest in units of language larger than sentences and in text – and context-dependency of meanings. Van Dijk and Kintsch (1983) considered the relevance of discourse to the study of language processing. Their development of a cognitive model of discourse understanding in individuals, gradually developed into cognitive models for explaining the construction of meaning on a societal level. Van Dijk (1985) collected the work of a variety of scholars for whom language and how it functions in discourse is variously the primary object of research, or a tool in the investigation of other social phenomena. This is in a way a documentation of the ‘state of the art’ of critical linguistics in the mid 1980s.

 

Van Dijk turns specifically to media discourse, giving not only his own reflection on communication in the mass media (van Dijk, 1986), but also bringing together the theories and applications of a variety of scholars interested in the production, uses and functions of media discourses (van Dijk, 1985). In critically analysing various kinds of discourses that encode prejudice, van Dijk’s interest is in developing a theoretical model that will explain cognitive discourse processing mechanisms.  Most recently  van Dijk has focused on issues of racism and ideology (van Dijk, 1998).

By the end of the 1980s critical linguistics was able to describe its aims, research interests, chosen perspective and methods of analysis much more specifically and rigidly than hitherto. Wodak (1989) lists, explains and illustrates the most important characteristics of critical linguistic research as they had become established in continued research.  The relevance of investigating language use in institutional settings is reiterated, and a new focus on the necessity of a historical perspective is introduced (the discourse – historical approach). This was followed by a variety of research projects into discursive practices in institutional contexts that would assist in developing an integrated theory of critical discourse analysis.

Statement of the Subject: The fruitless study of language in isolation has led linguists to acknowledge the importance of considering social context in discourse analysis.  Deacon et al. (1999 : 147-8) propose : “Discourse conjoins language use as text and practices.  What we identify as ‘discourse’ and what we identify as ‘social’ are deeply intervened … .  All talks, all texts, are social in nature.  Language is not some transparent

 

 

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Chapter Two

Conceptual Framework of Discourse

            The concept of discourse plays an increasingly significant role in contemporary social science. Although originating in disciplines such as linguistics and semiotics, it has been extended to many branches of the human and social sciences. Scholars in academic disciplines as diverse as anthropology, history and sociology psychoanalysis and social psychology; cultural, gender and post-colonial studies political science, public policy analysis, political theory and international relations, not to mention linguistics and literary theory, have used the concept of discourse to define and explain problems in their respective fields of study (Howarth 2002:1). Therefore, discourse is a difficult concept, largely because there are so many conflicting and overlapping definitions formulated from various theoretical and disciplinary standpoints (see van Dijk 1985a and Mcdonell 1986 for some range).

            Discourse is used across the social sciences in a variety of ways , often under the influence of Foucault. Discourse is used in a general sense for language (as well as , for instance , visual images) as an element of social life which is dialectically related to other elements. Discourse is also used more specifically : different discourses are different ways of representing aspects of the world.

            Fairclough (2003: 124) views discourses as a way of representing aspects of the world – the processes, relations and structures of the material word , the ‘mental world’ of thoughts, feelings beliefs and so forth, and the social world”. Particular aspects of the world may be represented differently, so we are generally in the position of having to consider the relationship between different discourses. Different discourses are different perspectives on the world, and they are associated with the different relations people have to the world , which in turn depends on their positions in the world, their social and personal identities , and the social relationships in which they stand to other people. Discourses not only represent the world as it is (or rather is seen to be) , they are also projective , imaginaries , representing possible worlds which are different from the actual world, and tied in to projects to change the world in particular directions. The relationships between different discourses are one element of the relationships between different people – they may complement one another, compete with one another, one can dominate others , and so forth. Discourses constitute part of the resources  which people deploy in relating to one another–keeping separate from one another, cooperating, competing, dominating–and in seeking to change the ways in which they relate to one another. 

            Coupland and Jaworski (2001: 148) combine two fundamental approaches to discourse : “as language–in- use and language use relative to social, political and cultural formulations – it is language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order, and shaping individuals’ interaction with society”. This is the key factor explaining why so many academic disciplines entertain the notion of discourse with such commitment. Discourse falls squarely within the interests not only of linguists, literary critics, critical theorists and communication scientists, but also of geographers, philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, social psychologists, and many others. Despite important differences of emphasis, discourse is an inescapably important concept for understanding society and human responses to it, as well as for understanding language itself.

 

۲٫۱٫۱٫  DEFINING THE CONCEPT OF DISCOURSE:

            Originally, the term discourse came from Latin, discursus, meaning ‘to run’, `to run on’, ‘to run to and fro’. Historically, it has been applied more to rehearsed forms of spoken language – like speeches, where people ‘run on’ about a topic – than to spontaneous speech. The modern meaning of discourse as encompassing all forms of talk has evolved because conversations, like formal speeches, `run’. This means that speakers make an effort to give their interactions shape and coherence – not consciously, but as an integral part of co-operating with another speaker to make meaning. So when people refer to talk as discourse they are drawing attention to the way talk is crafted medium (Carter et al. 1997: 165-6).

            Twenty years ago, discourse had its traditional meaning: the ordered exposition in writing or speech of a particular subject, a practice familiarly associated with writers such as Descartes and Machiavelli. Recently the term has been used with increasing frequency and with new kinds of meaning, reflecting in part the effect on critical vocabulary of work done within and across the boundaries of various disciplines: linguistics, philosophy, literary criticism, history, psychoanalysis and sociology (Fowler 2001: 62). So much so that it is frequently left undefined, as if its usage are simply common knowledge. It is used widely in analysing literary and non-literary texts and it is often employed to signal a certain theoretical sophistication in ways that are vague and sometimes obfuscatory. It has perhaps the widest range of possible significations of any term in literary and cultural theory, and yet it is often the term within theoretical texts which is least defined. It is interesting therefore to trace the ways in which we try to make sense of the term. The most obvious way to track down its range of meanings is through consulting a dictionary1, but here the more general meanings of the term and its more theoretical usages seem to have become enmeshed, since the theoretical meanings always have an overlaying of the more general meanings (Mills, 1997: 1).

            This sense of the general usage of discourse as having to do with conversation and holding forth on a subject, or giving a speech, has been partly due to the etymology of the word. However, it has also been due to the fact that this is the core meaning of the term discours in French, and since the 1960s it is a word  which has been associated with French philosophical thought, even though the terms discours and discourse do not correspond to one another exactly. During the 1960s the general meaning of the term, its philosophical meaning and a new set of more theoretical meanings began to diverge slightly, but these more general meanings have always been kept in play, inflecting the theoretical meanings in particular ways.

            Within the theoretical range of meanings, it is difficult to know where or how to track down the meaning of discourse. Glossaries of theoretical terms are sometimes of help, but very often the disciplinary context in which the term occurs is more important in trying to determine which of these meanings is being brought into play. This research will try to map out the contexts within which the term discourse is used, in order to narrow down the range of possible meanings.

            In linguistics, as Fairclough (1992b) indicates, discourse is used to refer to extended samples of either spoken or written language. This sense of `discourse’ emphasizes interaction between speaker and addressee or between writer and reader, and therefore processes of producing and interpreting speech and writing, as well as the situational context of language use. Discourse is also used for different types of language used in different sorts of social situation (e.g. newspaper discourse, advertising discourse, classroom discourse, the discourse of medical consultations).

 

 

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CHAPTER THREE

CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS : A FRAMEWORK

 

       CDA in all of its various forms understands itself to be strongly based in theory. To which theories do the different methods refer? Here we find a wide variety of theories, ranging from microsociological perspectives (Ron Scollon) to theories on society and power in Foucault’s tradition (Jager, Fairclough, Wodak), theories of social cognition (van Dijk and Chilton) and grammar, as well as individual concepts that are borrowed from larger theoretical traditions. As a first step, this chapter aims to systematize these different theoretical influences.

       A second step relates to the problem of operationalizing theoretical concepts. The primary issue here is how the various methods of CDA are able to translate their theoretical claims into instruments and methods of analysis. In particular, the emphasis is on the mediation between grand theories as applied to society at large and concrete instances of social interaction, the foci of analysis for CDA. As far as methodology is concerned, there are several perspectives within CDA: in addition to those which can be described primarily as variations from hermeneutics, one finds interpretative perspectives with various emphases, among them even quantitative procedures.

       In empirical social research a distinction can be made between elicitation and evaluation methods: between ways of collecting data (in the laboratory or by fieldwork) and procedures that have been developed for the analysis of collected data. Methodical procedures for the collection of data organize observation, while evaluation methods regulate the transformation of data into information and further restrict the opportunities for inference and interpretation. The distinction between these two tasks of data collection and analysis does not necessarily mean that there are two separate steps: CDA sees itself more in the tradition of Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss 1967), where data collection is not a phase that must be finished before analysis starts but might be a permanently ongoing procedure (Meyer 2001: 18).

       This connection between theory and discourse can be described in terms of the model for theoretical and methodological research procedures that is illustrated in figure 3.1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 3.1. Empirical research as a circular process (from Meyer 2001: 19)

 

۳٫۱٫ Theoretical grounding:

Among the different positions within CDA presented in this section, theoretical components of very different origins have been adopted. Moreover there is no guiding theoretical viewpoint that is used consistently within CDA, nor do the CDA protagonists proceed consistently from the area of theory to the field of discourse and then back to theory.

       Within the CDA approaches presented here the reader may find all the theoretical levels of sociological and socio-psychological theory (the concept of different theoretical levels is in the tradition of Merton 1967: 39-72).

۱٫    Epistemology covers theories which provide models of the conditions, contingencies and limits of human perception in general and scientific perception in particular.

۲٫    General social theories, often called ‘grand theories’, try to conceptualize relations between social structure and social action and thus link micro- and macro-sociological phenomena. Within this level one can distinguish between the more structuralist and the more individualist approaches. To put it very simply, the former provide topdown explanations (structure ® action), whereas the latter prefer bottom-up explanations (action ® structure). Many modern theories try to reconcile these positions and imply some kind of circularity between social action and social structure.

۳٫    Middle-range theories focus either upon specific social phenomena (such as conflict, cognition, social networks), or on specific subsystems of society (for example, economy, politics, religion).

۴٫    Micro-sociological theories try to explain social interaction, for example the resolution of the double contingency problem (Parsons and Shils 1951: 3-29) or the reconstruction of everyday procedures which members of a society use to create their own social order, which is the objective of ethnomethodology.

۵٫    Socio-psychological theories concentrate upon the social conditions of emotion and cognition and, compared to micro-sociology, prefer causal explanations to hermeneutic understanding of meaning.

۶٫    Discourse theories aim at the conceptualization of discourse as a social phenomenon and try to explain its genesis and its structure.

۷٫    Linguistic theories, for example, theories of argumentation, of grammar, of rhetoric, try to describe and explain the pattern specific to language systems and verbal communication.

       All these theoretical levels can be found in CDA. At first glance it seems that the unifying parentheses of CDA are rather the specifics of research questions than the theoretical positioning. In the following, a short outline of the theoretical positions and methodological objectives of CDA approaches will be presented.

       Among other scholars Jager is one of the closest to the origin of the notion of discourse, that is to Foucault’s structuralist explanations of discursive phenomena. Jager (2001) detects a blind spot in Foucault’ theory, namely the mediation between subject and object, between discursive and non-discursive practices (activities) on the one hand and manifestations (objects) on the other1. He strategically inserts Aleksej Leontjew’s (for example, 1982) activity theory. The mediation between the triangle’s corners is performed by work, activity and non-discursive practices. Thus the social acting subject becomes the link between discourse and reality, a theoretical movement which moderates the severeness of the Foucaultian structuralism. Jager’s epistemological position is based upon Ernesto Laclau’s (1981, 1985) social constructivism, which denies any societal reality that is determined outside the discursive: “If the discourse changes, the object not only changes its meaning, but it becomes a different object, it loses its previous identity” (Jager 2001: 43). That way Jager introduces a dualism of discourse on reality, where the role of social actors is strongly reminiscent of Umberto Eco’s (1985) ‘Lector in fabula’.

       Jager applies Jurgen Link’s notion of discourse as ‘a consolidated concept of speech’ which determines and consolidates action and exercises power. He tries to reposition Foucault’s definition of discourse which is too strongly caught up in the verbal. For this reason he reinvents Foucault’s concept of the ‘dispositive’ as a shell which envelops both discursive and non-discursive practices and materializations. Jager’s method explicitly aims at the analysis of discourses and dispositives. Yet he admits difficulties with the determination of the dispositive which are connected to the lack of determination of the links between the triangle’s corners.

       Whereas Jager refers mainly to general social theories, van Dijk is rather on the socio-psychological side of the CDA field. He sees theory not as the classical relationship of causal hypotheses but rather as a framework systematizing phenomena of social reality. He (1989a) claims that critical research on discourse needs to satisfy a number of requirements in order to effectively realize its aims:

    1. As is often the case for more marginal research tradition, CDA research has to be ‘better’ than other research in order to be accepted.

    2. It focuses primarily on ‘social problems’ and political issues, rather than on current paradigms and fashions.

    3. Empirically adequate critical analysis of social problems is usually ‘multidisciplinary’.

    4. Rather than to merely ‘describe’ discourse structures, it tries to ‘explain’ them in terms of properties of social interaction and especially social structure.

    5. More specifically CDA focuses on the ways discourse structures enact, confirm, legitimate, reproduce or challenge relations of ‘power’ and ‘dominance’ in society (van Dijk 1998a: 1).

            Van Dijk (2001: 96) explains that CDA focuses on social problems, and especially on the role of discourse in the production and reproduction of power abuse or domination. Whenever possible, it does so from a perspective that is consistent with the best interests of dominated groups. It takes the experiences and opinions of members of

 

 

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Chapter 4

 

A Critical discourse analysis

of the election campaigns texts and

the development of the May 23 event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This chapter is focused on the analysis of the Islamic Republic Of Iran (IRI) 7th presidential election campaigns texts by combining the critical discourse analysis methods discussed in the previous chapters in light of Fairclough’s model (1989) at the three stages of ‘Description’, ‘Interpretation’, and ‘Explanation’. The Description stage deals with the linguistic features of the texts at semantic and syntactic levels. The Interpretation stage, which is wider in scope, is concerned with the situational and intertextual contexts seeking the common discourse in the speech event to which the given text belongs.  Finally, the Explanation stage focuses on the power relations behind the discourses, the way the social structures restrict the discourse, and the mutual effect of the discourses on the social structures and power relations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

۴٫۱ Description

Description is the stage at which the critical analyst studies the formal properties and linguistic features of the language at semantic and syntactic levels taking into consideration the experiential, relational, and expressive values. In effect, this stage has to do with the social identities that are developed by the analyst. Nevertheless, as the speech texts are generally very lengthy, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do a sentence-by-sentence linguistic analysis. Therefore, the discourse analysis in this study will be concerned with the overall text coherence as a result of word choice.

To begin with, the 7th presidential election campaigns of Iran will be reconstructed as follows.

 

۴٫۱٫۱ The Election campaigns reconstruction model

The May-23 event (1997) is doubtless a turning point in the history of the Post-Revolution Iran. The campaign was a challenge to the two opposing discourses. The discourse model developed out of this political debate was full of new concepts and border lines as well as new cultural, social, and political perspectives. Another major outcome of this event was that the marginal non-official speeches crept into the territory of the official ones, and many forbidden views began to be verbalized. Some relevant instances will be presented later in this section.

 

As early as 1980s, the political order in Iran was defined within a major discourse domain pioneered by Imam Khomeini. Like any other dominant discourse, Imam Khomeini’s discourse was inclusive enough to encompass several discourses, and powerful enough to exclude several others from the political debates. Thus, in Imam’s time, there was the multiplicity of certain political discourses which will be discussed in the following sections. Each of the dominant discourses followed more or less the same pattern collectively referred to as ‘the official discourse’. It was a center-oriented discourse that presented a sacred view of the Post-Revolution Iran with a promising future. It was concerned with the Development policies in light of ‘social justice’, and sought to revive and spread the values of the Revolution and the imposed War.

 

During the 7th presidential election campaign (1997), some of the excluded discourses found their way back to the political debates. The significance of the point lies in the fact that the admission of a marginal discourse to the scene would mean a serious challenge to the political order and the emergence of costly political conflicts. The main [political] figures were not likely to welcome such conflicts, as the participation of the marginal discourses in the main field of political debates would lead to an unexpected situation for all stakeholders. The main figures would rather settle their conflicts within the dominant discourse framework so as not to pave the way for the opportunists waiting behind the tight election campaigns. Now the question may be raised as to how the May-23 (khordad the Second) event paved that way.

 

۴٫۱٫۲ The political atmosphere in Iran prior to the May-23 event (khordad the Second)

In the last few months of the year 1996, the political parties began to plan for an active participation in the Iran’s 7th presidential election. The political atmosphere was under the influence of some significant factors as follows.

  1. After Hashemi Rafsanjani’s second term of presidency, the political parties began to expect a new era in the country’s political challenges. In the conventional presidency campaign, aside from the first presidential election, there always used to be one distinguished political figure among the candidates who was in the limelight and all parties kept encouraging the public to participate in the election. This time, however, no such a figure appeared on the stage to exclude the other parties, and, therefore, all political groups seemed to have the opportunity to try their chance in the campaign and encourage active public participation.
  2. The so-called Right Party had more chances of success. Prior to the Parliament’s 5th election, they had gained the majority of the seats, and in the second half of Hashemi’s last term of presidency, the Party began to expand its scope of influence. The majority of the MPs, the Assembly of Experts, the Council of Guardians2, the Judiciary, some departments of the Executive including the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Islamic Culture and Guidance, The Revolutionary Army (Sepah Pasdaran), The Militia (Basseej), and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) all took sides with the Right Party. Therefore, the scope of the Right’s power was growing in public view from 1994 on. The opposition parties could at best take advantage of the election campaigns to introduce themselves only, hiring the isolated political groups with the purpose of finding an opportunity to appear on the stage. As a result, the public had the impression that the Right would definitely win the election.
  3. Despite being strongly supported, the Right Party was lacking in a figure that, character wise, could be comparable to the past popular candidates. This was the Right’s Achilles’ heel, which the Left could take advantage of during the political challenge. Based on the Parliament’s 5th Election results, the Left could predict that their active participation in the 7th presidential election would lead to one of the following outcomes:

(a)    The Right would narrowly win the election while the Left remains a strong opposition group.

(b)    The Right would sabotage the Left’s effective participation which the former would eventually pay for. The least serious outcome of this sabotage could be little public participation. 

  1. The Parliament’s 5th election disclosed a critical disintegration in the established political front. Just before this election, a group of people in the so-called Right Party who called themselves ‘The Construction Agents’ branched out and were referred to as ‘The Modernist Right’ thereafter. In the late 1996, rumors were spread as to the coalition of these two sub-branches. The coalition, however, failed, and the way was eventually paved for the May-23 event in 1997.

The way each party appeared in the election campaigns were the indications of their psychological state. Based on their perception of the election results, each party adopted certain strategies, which will be discussed in detail in the following sections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

۴٫۱٫۳ The Left Party (Reformists)

Ever since August 1996, the Left unofficially introduced Mir-Hussein Moosavi3 as their candidate, while the introduction of Nategh Noori had begun months before by the Right. The Left considered Moosavi as the reliable prime minister in Imam’s time, a great support to the Islamic troops during the 8-year Holy Defense, a true revolutionary, an expert, and a priceless asset to the Revolution. He was believed to have an extra-party approach respected by most parties as well as the Parliament4.

Moosavi’s candidacy rightly empowered the position of the Left, and, in the meantime, the Right did every attempt to make him change his mind.  With Moosavi’s resignation from candidacy on October 29, 1996, the Left Party felt politically empty. Pressed for time, the Left had no other alternative.

The significance of the Left Party’s discourse from October 29, 1996 until January 27, 1997 when Khatami’s candidacy was officially announced lies in its inclination toward the official discourse. The official discourse focused on the Revolution and Leadership and was supported by the devoted parties with the public in the margin.

After Moosavi’s resignation, the Left adopted a special discourse to invalidate the rival party and prove its own position as a rightful opposition party unfairly suppressed. By claiming that honest revolutionaries such as Moosavi are forced out of the political campaigns, they tried to provide evidence for the Right’s monopolistic strategies.

The Left Party were aware of the significance of their presence in the election, as their active participation would be an exciting challenge to the Right. Nevertheless, the Left wouldn’t like to have a contribution to the rival party’s success by adding to the excitement of the challenge.  On the other hand, any chance of success for the Left would mean defeat to the Right, so the latter appealed to any powerful resources to hold the former back. By the same token, if the Left Party decided to give up, the Right would be worried as to the possibility of negative outcomes due to lack of public participation. The Left Party took advantage of this critical situation warning that they would not participate. The Left’s strategy could be likened to that of a player, who leaves the field because he was not given a prestigious position, and therefore, tries to either stop the game or make it look unfair or less exciting.

After long covert debates, the Left finally introduced Khatami, an attractive political figure, who officially announced his candidacy on January 27, 1997 in support of the Association of Clergy Crusaders (ACC), Imam’s Followers, and The Construction Agents.  Khatami took several trips to different cities and made many speeches from late January 1997 until May 19, 1997.  His campaign speeches addressed two categories of people with the same purpose. The first category included the intellectuals and the academic community, while the second category included the mass.  Speech wise, he addressed the first category, and behavior wise, the second category. These features will later be discussed in detail.

By addressing the academic community in his earlier campaign speeches, Khatami appeared as a different persona. He presented a new version of the official discourse. However, after the Council of Guardians’ approval of his candidacy, Khatami’s discourse turned much similar to the official discourse. The novelty found earlier in his speeches and his later shift toward the official discourse could be observed in both the semantics and syntax of his discourse.

In next sections, Khatami’s campaign speeches will be analyzed at both semantic and syntactic levels in two parts: before and after the Council of Guardians’ approval of his candidacy. The purpose is to reveal how a marginal discourse crept into the body of a main discourse, that of Khatami’s, and the shift of the latter toward the official discourse.

 

 

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References

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Austin, J.L. (1962) How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bakhtin, M. (1981) The Dialogical Imagination. Texas: University of Texas Press.

Bakhtin, M. (1986) Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Texas: University of Texas Press.

Bakker, C. (1997) “Membership categorization and interview accounting.” In D. Silverman (ed.) Qualitative Research. Theory, Method and Practice. London: Sage.

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Becker, F., Gerhard, U. & Link, J. (1997) “Modern Kollektivsymbolik. Eine diskurstheoretisch orientierter Forschungsbericht mit Auswahlbibliographie.” Internationales Archiv fur Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur (IASL), 22(1): 70-154.

Belsey, C. (1980) Critical Practice. London: Routledge.

Bellah, R.N. (1973) Emile Durkheim: On Morality and Society, Selected Writings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

 

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