Commemoration in crisis: A discursive analysis of who ‘we’ and ‘they’ have been or become in ceremonial political speeches before and during the Greek financial downturn

Gkinopoulos, Theofilos and Hegarty, Peter (2018). Commemoration in crisis: A discursive analysis of who ‘we’ and ‘they’ have been or become in ceremonial political speeches before and during the Greek financial downturn. British Journal of Social Psychology, 57(3) pp. 591–609.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12244

URL: http://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12244

Abstract

This paper analyses the discourse of statements of the leaders of two Greek political parties
commemorating the restoration of Greek democracy on 24th July 1974; the ruling party New
Democracy and the opposition, Coalition of the Radical Left. We focus on how these leaders
act as entrepreneurs of their identities by constructing their in-groups in broad or narrow terms
and their outgroups in vague or specific terms. These constructions were ventured during a
period of relative political stability (2008) and instability (2012), and we focus on how in-group
prototypes and group boundaries are narrated across Greece’s past, present and future in
ambiguous or concrete terms. The study aligns the social identity approach to political
leadership with studies on political discourse and ‘the rhetoric of we’. We view commemorative statements as historical charters and respond to calls for discourse analysis to
take greater account of historical context. The findings suggest concrete hypotheses about how
leaders with different amounts of political support might define, as identity entrepreneurs, who
‘we’ are, and who ‘we’ are not in democratic contexts marked by stability or crisis.

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