Truth, obligation and ethics in the propagation of democracy

Benson, Krystina (2009) Truth, obligation and ethics in the propagation of democracy. Ejournalist, 9(1).

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In this paper I present an analysis of the language used by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) on its website (NED, 2008). The specific focus of the analysis is on the NED's high usage of the word “should” revealed in computer assisted corpus analysis using Leximancer. Typically we use the word “should” as a term to propose specific courses of action for ourselves and others. It is a marker of obligation and “oughtness”. In other words, its systematic institutional use can be read as a statement of ethics, of how the NED thinks the world ought to behave. As an ostensibly democracy-promoting institution, and one with a clear agenda of implementing American foreign policy, the ethics of NED are worth understanding. Analysis reveals a pattern of grammatical metaphor in which “should” is often deployed counter intuitively, and sometimes ambiguously, as a truth-making tool rather than one for proposing action. The effect is to present NED's imperatives for action as matters of fact rather than ethical or obligatory claims.

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ID Code: 32396
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see link).
Additional URLs:
Keywords: National Endowment for Democracy, Grammatical Metaphor, Critical Discourse Analysis, Political Communication, Ethics
ISSN: 1444-741X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified (220199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLITICAL SCIENCE (160600) > Political Theory and Political Philosophy (160609)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LINGUISTICS (200400) > Linguistic Structures (incl. Grammar Phonology Lexicon Semantics) (200408)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Past > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Krystina Benson
Deposited On: 26 May 2010 23:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 09:22

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