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Compassion and war: A critical discourse analysis of the social practice of voluntary community service in contemporary America

Sandaran, Shanti Chandran. 2008. Compassion and war: A critical discourse analysis of the social practice of voluntary community service in contemporary America. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

This study undertakes a critical investigation of the ideology underpinning the social practice of voluntary community service (VCS) in contemporary America. VCS is described as a hegemonic practice promoted by the Bush government, with the aim of social regulation and control of the people. The study combines Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) with Michel Foucault's theorising of the practices of modern government, for its methodological and analytical procedures. It incorporates Wodak's Discourse Historical Approach and Van Leeuwen's discourse analytical approach, i.e. recontextualisation, representation of social actors and social action, and legitimation. Two sets of data are analysed: political discourse which comprise four key speeches by G.W. Bush between 2001 and 2002, and data from an ethnographic study of a group of grassroots practitioners of VCS in the state of Oklahoma. The analyses of Bush's speeches centre on his attempts to mobilise the American people in VCS through the launching of a national service program - 'the USA Freedom Corps'. The thesis compares Bush's 2001 Inaugural Address and the 2002 State of the Union Address, of which only the latter appears to have succeeded in getting more people to volunteer. The analyses reveal a discursive shift in Bush's strategy from the pre- and post- September 11 period, whereby the latter speech appeals not only to the nation's patriotic feelings but also represents VCS as a 'wartime effort' in connection with the September 11 attacks and the subsequent 'War On Terror'. The analyses show the discursive deployment of the right-wing Christian ideology underpinning Bush's service initiative that is part of his political philosophy -'compassionate conservatism', and its policy for welfare reform - the Faith Based Initiative. The ethnographic study of the grassroots level practice of VCS demonstrates how this dominant ideology is adopted and naturalised amongst the VCS practitioners. The USA Freedom Corps and the Faith Based Initiative are discussed as programs of conduct that steer its practitioners (the American people) to adopt the preferred attitudes, beliefs, practices and lifestyles. It is argued that the social practice of voluntary community service in contemporary America has become a hegemonic practice that aims for moral regulation and social control.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
ISBN: 9781303184918
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:33
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/55783

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