Political discourse and the re-branding of NZ national identity

Smith, P
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The Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick, Coventry

The New Zealand Government’s construction of an all-inclusive national identity in the early 2000s was imagined in terms of “the New Zealand Way” – a term used by politicians that clearly echoed Britain’s Third Way politics that emerged in the mid-1990s. Key to this concept was a promoted focus on a new shared national identity for all New Zealanders, regardless of their ethnicity, that would provide the foundation for the building of a socially cohesive society in an increasingly diverse country. In applying the “discourse-historical” approach of Critical Discourse Analysis (Wodak, 2001) I examine the political rhetoric between 2005 and 2008 whereby New Zealand’s Labour-led government pursued a nation-building strategy to communicate in both domestic and global contexts a positive image of a stable country capable of competing economically on the world stage. In analysing the official discourse in a number of political texts I highlight the use of a range of discursive strategies by which people both within and outside the nation could be assisted, if not persuaded or cajoled, to imagine or think of New Zealand society in a certain way. This can be interpreted as “official legitimating discourse…[that] contributes to the management and the reproduction of power” (Martin-Rojo and van Dijk, 1997, p. 562). I argue that the Government’s promotion of an inclusive society was not only an essential part of its rebranding of the nation (Dinnie, 2008), but it was also a way to position New Zealanders as global citizens as well as national citizens. Dinnie, K. (2008). Nation branding: Concepts, issues, practice. Oxford, England: Butterworth Heinemman. Martin-Rojo, L., & van Dijk, T. (1997). 'There was a problem, and it was solved!' Legitimating the expulsion of 'illegal' immigrants in Spanish parliamentary discourse. Discourse & Society, 8(4), 523–567. Wodak, R. (2001). The discourse-historical approach. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (pp. 63–94). London, England: Sage.

British Association of Applied Linguistics held at University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom, 2014-09-04 to 2014-10-06
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