Discourse and leadership: Using the paradigm of the permanent state of emergency

Kerr, Ron (2008). Discourse and leadership: Using the paradigm of the permanent state of emergency. Critical Discourse Studies, 5(3) pp. 201–216.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900802131702

Abstract

In this paper I use critical discourse theory to understand the strategies of the 'princes' of the contemporary world. Using Bourdieu's concepts of 'field' and 'homology' and Agamben's postulate of the 'permanent state of emergency' (which draws on Benjamin and Schmitt), I address data from the political field and from the corporate field to ask whether the discourse of the 'leader' as authentic decision-maker can be transferred across fields and whether the associated paradigm of 'the permanent state of emergency' may also be circulating between the political field and the corporate field - and if these processes are taking place, whether they are being technologised as a political and business strategy. The paper concludes that this may indeed be happening and that therefore a renewed focus on informed democracy, governance, and law rather than on the figure of the post-bureaucratic leader is needed in these critical times.

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