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A Critical Search for Values in George W. Bush’s State of the Union Addresses


Agnieszka Sowińska

This book focuses on values and valuation in the State of the Union addresses delivered by the former U.S. President George W. Bush. What values are invoked in the speeches? How are these values constructed? How can they be classified? How are particular construals of values conducive to the actions the speaker wants to legitimize? Drawing on Critical Discourse Studies, the book examines pragmalinguistic tools applied in political legitimization, such as proximization, metaphor or assertion. The analysis reveals three ideological values used in the context of foreign policy making: security, terrorism and freedom.
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Chapter Five: A critical discourse analysis of values in President George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses


The main objective of Chapter Five is to present an empirical analysis of valuative utterances in the US State of the Union addresses delivered by the American president George W. Bush during his two terms of office (2001–2008). The chapter includes: (1) a classification of socio-cultural values that surfaced in the speeches; (2) a critical discourse analysis of typical positive and negative ideological and moral values, which includes the analysis of their representations and the most salient pragmalinguistic tools used in their construals; (3) a brief discussion of other values identified in the corpus; and finally, (4) a summary of the results and discussion.

The analysis that follows benefited from the use of the AntConc 3.2.1. freeware concordancer software programme (Anthony 2007). After a pilot analysis of one SOTU address, the corpus of eight text files was processed. The programme allowed a compilation of a frequency wordlist and added more rigor to the study. Searches of the words that realized particular value concepts were run and concordance lists in the KWIC (key-word-in-context) format were generated and subject to qualitative analysis (cf. McEnery et al. 2006; Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk 2005). For instance, for the value of freedom, word searches of “freedom” and its synonyms and morphologically related words (“free,” “liberty,” “liberate,” “independence”) were run. The concepts that needed to be worked out inferentially in a manner similar to recovering implicatures (cf. Grice 1979; Cap 2006) were also included in the analysis, especially in the case of negative values,...

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