The political reality is a substance, the “flesh” of politics
It is formed by the activity of people connected with the realization of the imperious interests and a goal-setting. In the course of the activity of individuals, groups, organizations, institutes, any political subjects or actors cooperate with the other subjects. The actions and interactions of the political actors are carried out in time and space. As a result, there is a connected sequence of actions and interactions. Such a sequence is called “a political process”. Each political process should be analyzed. The analysis can be based on different theories. The given essay will touch upon the problem of effectiveness and usefulness of the discourse theory in the political analysis.
The understanding of the political analysis as the application analysis is often met in the political science and, first of all, at a number of the western researchers. The political analysis is a tool of the solution of the actual political problems, facing the participants of the current political process. The political analysis is the advice, relating to the sphere of public decisions; it is defined by social values, oriented on a client. This definition indicates the characteristic features of the applied political science - a strict orientation to the specific client and direct participation in the process of adoption of political decisions. The key moment of the political analysis is the organization of the decision-making process concerning very urgent problems of the current political practice. However, the acceptance of the competent political decisions is impossible without two other essential components - analysis of the political situation and creation of the assumptions concerning its development.
The political process can be studied differently, remaining thus within scientific knowledge
The choice of theories and approaches to the research of the political process and its analysis depend, first of all, on the specifics of individual political behavior, its results, the structure of a definite political system, and the features of the course of political processes in a definite country.
There is a set of methodological approaches and theories to the analysis of the political processes in modern political science and political sociology. The representatives of these theories consider various aspects of this phenomenon. The discourse theory is one of them. The concept “discourse” is very multiple-valued (from Latin “discursus” - reasoning, argument), is often used as a synonym to the word “text”. “Text” is understood not only as a specific product of a speech activity, but also as the widest range of the phenomena of reality, structured in a special way and bearing a special message.
There is a set of the definitions of the concepts “discourse”, “a political discourse” in a science. Two main approaches can be singled out at its variety. The first approach is rather wide; discourse is understood as a fragment of the reality possessing a temporary extent, logic and representing the finished composition created on the basis of the organization of senses (the finished “work”, for example, in the form of the text) with use of a semantic code (dictionary, etc.). The representatives of the other, narrower approach, treat a discourse as a special type of communication: “The discourse is the communicative event occurring between speaking, listening (the observer, etc.) in the course of communicative action in certain temporary, spatial and other context. This communicative action can be oral or written and have verbal and nonverbal components”.
If to apply this approach to the analysis of the social and political phenomena, discourse will determine not the interpersonal dialogue as “a speech event”, but “a social dialogue, occurring by means and in public institutes between individuals, groups and also and between the social institutes involved in this dialogue”.
The representatives of the discourse theory single out two aspects of this phenomenon:
- A discourse - a frame, a “generating system”. Such terms as “language” and “ideology” are often used for the designation of this phenomenon; this aspect is used when the matter is about a discourse of liberalism, conservatism, etc.
- A definite discourse - a discourse work, possessing a certain plot, for example, a discourse of an election of the president of the USA 2012.
The discourse theory is rather new approach in a political science, though has deep roots in a philosophical tradition. In the 20th century, the discourse theory was widely applied in the linguistic sciences. The intensive use of the term begins in the middle of the 1950s in philosophy, and later in other social sciences, including politics. This process was promoted by the deepening of the interest to linguistics.
The bases of the theory of a political discourse were put by representatives of Cambridge and Oxford philosophical school in the 1950s, who analyzed a linguistic context of a public opinion. From this point, it is possible to speak of the formation of an independent methodological approach of the analysis of political processes. The representatives of discourse theory widely use the methods of the semiotics analysis (discourse frame studying), and also rhetoricians and literary criticisms (the analysis of a concrete discourse work) for studying of a political discourse.
One of the most developed directions of the analysis within this approach is the contextual analysis of a political discourse, to be exact, its separate components. As a result of such contextual analysis, the features of meanings of separate components of the political discourse, being formed under the influence of external factors (social and economic, cultural and political conditions) are revealed. Moreover, the political discourse is not a simple reflection of the processes occurring in other areas of a social world, for example, in economy. It unites the semantic elements and practices of all spheres of public life.
For example, the labor government, which came to power in the 1950s in England, created the program, using various ideological components: the state of the general welfare, the promise of general employment, the Keynesian model of management, the nationalization of certain industries, business support, and the cold war. This strategy was not simply the expression of the interests of certain social groups of society, the answer to changes in the economy, but it became the result of various political, ideological and economic models; therefore, a new discourse was designed.
It is possible to show the practical application of the theory of discourse on the example of the analysis of a Thatcherism. The project of a Thatcherism consisted of two mutually exclusive each other theories: these are the elements of a neoliberal ideology (the concepts “personal interests”, “monetarism”, “competition”), and the elements of a conservative ideology (“nation”, “family”, “duty”, “authority”, and “power”). It was based on the unification of the policy of a free market with a strong state. This politics resulted in the introduction of the representations that the social institutes built according to the ideology “collectivism”, bear responsibility for a crisis state of economy and prolonged stagnation in society.
Thus, the address of the political analysis to the achievements of rhetoric and literary criticism in the discourse work assumes, first of all, use of the methods connected with the analysis of a plot. There are well proved schemes and models which allow to present separate political events and processes (meeting, an electoral process, etc.) as discourses with the plot, meaning the other parameters and predicting its development. This technique allows receiving good results in the analysis of political process as a dynamic characteristic of politics.