University Of Tasmania
whole_BobrowskiChristinaLaura2005_thesis.pdf (11.8 MB)

Populist discourse : an Adornian rhetorical analysis of the emotional appeal of Pauline Hanson's One Nation

Download (11.8 MB)
posted on 2023-05-26, 23:28 authored by Bobrowski, Christina Laura
This thesis offers a sociological explanation for the electoral appeal of Pauline Hanson's One Nation (PHON) by performing a discourse analysis of the parties manifesto. This manifesto is comprised of the public speeches, parliamentary speeches and media releases of PHON delivered during the period of Hanson's term in the Australian Federal Parliament 1996-1998. The analysis is a synthesis of methodological approaches originated by Theodor Adorn and Erving Goffrnan. These approaches are rhetorical analysis and frame analysis. The combination of these approaches augmented by the simultaneous identification of key thematic domains allows the discourse analysis to be linked to issues canvassed by the Australian Election Study 1998 (AES 1998). It is proposed in the thesis that Hanson's political style is of the populist type that is demonstrated to be increasingly prevalent in Western politics. It is the paucity of sociological explanation that focuses on the manifestos of contemporary populist politics in order to understand the mechanism of appeal of such political movements that warrants this in-depth analysis of an Australian example of the phenomena. Firstly, the work of Adorno is revisited by considering the historical climate in which he was working in the 1930s including the development of The Frankfurt School. During this time, Adorn developed a 'Gallery of Tricks and Devices' for analysing the radio programs of the fascist Presbyterian preacher, Martin Luther Thomas. The Gallery is actually a typology of rhetorical devices that Adorn identified in the speech of Thomas. Thomas employed a populist style and is known for his emotional appeals to his audience. This typology was then applied to the manifesto of 116 documents comprised of public and parliamentary speeches and media releases produced in Hanson's name from her election to Federal Parliament in 1996 until her defeat in 1998. The objective of this step of the discourse analysis was to assess the utility of Adorno's typology. A content analysis was also performed to ascertain the weighted means of the prevalence of the devices within each of the document categories. The results suggested that the typology required some revision to enhance its suitability for the efficient analysis of contemporary populist discourse. A Revised Typology was formulated and applied. This new typology has the potential to be useful in the analysis of the manifestos of a variety of political movements. This rhetorical analysis gives insight into the potential impact on listeners of particular excerpts of speech. The impact is the transference of messages about particular issues and is frequently emotive in tone. The incidence of each rhetorical device is composed of one or more sentences. The key issues identified were grouped according to theme. Three key thematic domains are identified and are labelled Cultural, Social and Economic Sovereignty. A contemporary form of Goffman's (1974) frame analysis developed by Snow and Benford (1986) informs the scrutiny of the discourse. The purpose of this step of the analysis is to ascertain what the overall potential impact of the collective effect of the rhetorical devices is on audiences. The term applied by Snow and Benford to describe the collective impact of the meaning of a particular discourse is Master Frame. It is asserted that the Master Frame of the PHON discourse is an Identity Frame. It has been suggested that a factor lacking in frame analysis generally, is the absence of the acknowledgement of the role of emotion in attracting people to political or social movements. The incorporation into the analysis of the application of a rhetorical typology addresses this shortcoming. It also serves to identify the emotional component of the discourse that is associated with the populist political style. The thesis claims that PHON's appeal is founded on successfully communicating its master frame to the constituency via its populist style. Furthermore that that this populist style relies heavily on emotionally charged presentations by the leader. The identification of the key thematic domains of the discourse is necessary in order to establish if there is indeed a link between the master frame of the discourse and PHON's appeal to the constituency. This is achieved by the statistical analysis of the AES 1998 data set. The first step of this analysis was to create a reliable scale to measure respondents 'feelings' towards PHON's leader, Pauline Hanson. Ten items were selected from the data sets that address aspects of respondent's feelings towards Hanson. This scale was labelled the Emotional Energy Scale following Randall Collins' (1988b) definition of this concept. The data set was then searched for items that addressed issues encapsulated by the thematic domains. Section D. Election Issues, E. Social Policy and G. Constitution, Rights and Minorities were found to contain items that corresponded to the thematic domains. Section D. related to Economic Sovereignty; Section E. related to Social Sovereignty and Section G. related to Cultural Sovereignty. Factor analysis was used to create scales from items within each of these sections that addressed issues that dominated the PHON manifesto. Regression analysis was then employed. The results indicate that high levels of positive Emotional Energy for Hanson is predictive of shared attitudes towards issues by respondents with Hanson. This suggests that there is a strong correlation between the feelings held for people towards PHON and the level of support for PHON's position on issues. These findings indicate that Hanson successfully employed populist rhetoric to achieve a remarkable level of support for her new political party. However it must be acknowledged that an audience already existed for whom the PHON message could resonate. The demographic characteristics of PHON this audience of voters has been described at length elsewhere and this work is acknowledged. It must however be appreciated that though Pauline Hanson has experienced the inevitable decline of the charismatic leader, those who demonstrated support for her still reside in the electorate. These people may still be waiting for the right 'style' of voice to emerge on the political scene to represent them. This thesis provides an innovative approach for understanding the mechanism of populist appeal in contemporary politics. It proposes a revised typology for assessing populist rhetoric and it is the first thorough, systematic analysis of PHON's manifesto.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected