Language and Power - Things to look for

Things to look for when analysing a language and power text.

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  • Language and Power
    • Wareing
      • Political power - held by politicians, the police and those working in law courts
      • Personal power - those who hold power as a result of their occupation or role, e.g. teachers and employers
      • Social group power - those who hold power as a result of social variables such as class, gender and age
    • Instrumental power - power used to maintain and enforce authority
    • Power in discourse - the ways  in which power is shown through language choices
    • Power asymmetry - where one speaker has a higher status than the other e.g. a manager talking to an employee
    • Unequal encounter - where one speaker is seen as the powerful participant and others as less powerful participants
    • Constraints - placed on less powerful participants by the powerful participant e.g. the focus of the discussion
    • Synthetic personalisation - Norman Fairclough
      • Trick used by advertisers to make the audience feel as though they're being addressed personally
        • Build the product image - through lexical choices and graphology
        • Build the consumer - create an implied reader who is someone who fits the ideology represented by the text
        • Build relationships with the potential customer
          • The text's producer is seen as a single human rather than an impersonal company (implied writer)
          • The text implied familiarity with the reader through choice of lexis
          • Supported by the use of second person pronouns (you/we) and determiners (you/our)
    • Modals
      • Epistemic - DEFINITE e.g. will, shall
      • Deontic - express permission, obligation and requirement e.g. may, must, could, should
    • Brown and Levinson - negative and positive face
      • Positive face - an individual's need to feel valued or liked
      • Negative face - an individual's need to not feel imposed on or have his/her freedom of choice threatened
      • Face threatening act
  • Influential power - power used to influence and persuade others
  • Power behind discourse - attitudes and beliefs in society behind the enactment of power e.g. police logo


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