Award Date

May 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Committee Member

Barb Brents

Second Committee Member

Kate Korgan

Third Committee Member

Simon Gottschalk

Fourth Committee Member

Greg Borchard

Number of Pages

287

Abstract

Presidential speeches recycle and reify power to construct notions of citizenship, civic duty, and patriotism (Bostdorff 2003, Bostdorff and O’Rourke 1997, Loseke 2009, Murphy 2003). Previous research shows that Presidents use patriotism and civic duty to promote particular policies (Bostdorff and O’Rourke 1997, Coe et al. 2004) and war (Altheide 2004, Ivie 2005, Bostdorff 2003, Loseke 2009, Murphy 2003). Research also looks at how post-World War II (WWII) political culture and campaigning reflect a consumer society, either through how Presidents use consumption to promote a specific value (Altheide 2004, Bostdorff 2003) or how Presidents themselves symbolize branded commodities (Miller and Stiles 1986, Scammell 2007, Simonds 1989, Uricchio 2009 van Ham 2001, Vidich 1990, Zavattaro 2010). However, there is not much research examining how Presidential rhetoric connects consumption and economic values to civic duty and patriotism over time.

Using Critical Discourse Analysis, I reviewed twenty inaugural speeches twelve Presidents delivered while in office since WWII to examine how they connect consumption and economic values to civic duty and patriotism. Presidential inaugural speeches from the 1930s-1950s emphasize collectivism and construct civic duty as working together to build a better America; expressing patriotism required citizens fulfill their civic duty and maintain strong work ethics. Presidential inaugural speeches from 1960s and 1970s emphasize collectivism and individualism and construct civic duty as an individual’s obligation to pursue an American Dream and as working together to help stabilize America’s economic system; expressing patriotism required citizens fulfill their civic duty and maintain independence from government assistance. Presidential inaugural speeches from the 1980s-mid 2000s emphasize individualism and construct civic duty as an individual’s obligation to work for the resources needed to consume and to develop community resources; expressing patriotism required citizens fulfill their civic duty by spending and serving their communities.

Keywords

critical discourse analysis; inaugural speeches; political discourse; politics; presidential branding; presidential rhetoric

Disciplines

Sociology

Language

English


Included in

Sociology Commons

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