Discourse Strategies and Public Assessment of Persuasion in Government Ministers-Audience Political Interactions in Nigeria

Henry Abaya 340 PAGES (114842 WORDS) Dissertation
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ABSTRACT

Official interactions between government ministers and the public are common political discourse events in democratic Nigeria. Previous studies on political discourse have examined language forms such as metaphor, which function as persuasive devices in ceremonial speeches, campaigns, manifestos and parliamentary debates, without adequate attention paid to the persuasiveness of discourse strategies in government minister-public interactions. This study, therefore, examined discursive issues in government minister-public interactions, to determine discourse strategies used and their persuasive value, with a view to establishing their significance and functions. The study adopted van Dijk’s Action theory, Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm and Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics. Data included 40 political interactions: 20 from briefings of the Ministerial Platforms and 20 from the National Good Governance Tour in Nigeria. These were sourced through audiovisual recordings from national radio and television broadcasts and internet downloads, and transcribed verbatim to written texts. A questionnaire was administered on 600 literate Nigerians, in the academia and other civil populace, 100 in two states each of the 6 geo-political regions, to determine the persuasive value of discourse strategies identified. Data were subjected to content, quantitative and discourse analyses. Three major discursive issues in the political interactions between ensemble and ratified participants featured prominently. These were lexicalised as national development, political cooperation, and challenges of insecurity. Discourse strategies were twofold: those by the ministers and those by the citizens. The ministers employed narratives, characterised by logical arguments, using statistics (26.1%), - ‘we are working on eleven airports. One of them is here...’ these supported arguments and appealed to human rationality. Metaphors (30.5%), - ‘development is a process,’ appealed for patience from people. Repetitions (18.5%), - ‘people must have their say, people must express themselves, people...,’ embedded cooperation. While rhetorical questions (9.9%), - ‘what achievements have we made?’ were used to arouse people’s curiosity. Conversely, the citizens used strategies of questioning (43.9%), - ‘what are these infrastructure your administration claims to have provided?’ to elicit responses. Entreaties (17.9%), - ‘we are appealing to you to intervene...,’ stirred up emotional feelings. As agitations (12.9%), - ‘we in Sapele also want power!’ were used to elicit reaction. Linguistic devices indicating actions and reactions relating to behaviour, using action verbs such as ‘doing’ and ‘executed’, (government has executed over 300 roads...) indicated the action of speakers. Attitudes expressed through modal verbs like ‘must’, ‘shall’, ‘will’, - (governance must involve the people...) showed the level of commitment of speakers to intended actions. Public assessment of the persuasive value indicated that 60.0% of respondents affirmed that strategies of statistics, metaphor, repetition and rhetorical question were highly persuasive. The strategies used exploited human yearnings for evidence, information and imagination to positively change perceptions and reactions of people to government policies.Logical arguments achieved through statistics, rhetorical question, repetition and metaphor prominently occurred in government minister-public interactions to inform, persuade and influence citizens’ impression on government actions and policies. These elements enhance the understanding of strategic political interactive discourses and persuasion in the Nigerian democratic context.

Keywords:     Linguistic devices, Government-public interactions, Political discourse, Persuasive value
Word count:  492

Table of Contents
Title page: ..................................................................................................................... i
Abstract: ......................................................................................................................  ii
Dedication: ..................................................................................................................  iii
Acknowledgements: ....................................................................................................  v
Certification: ...............................................................................................................  ix
 Table of contents: ........................................................................................................  
    List of tables: ............................................................................................................   xvi
List of figures: ................................................................................................  xviii
CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Aim and objectives of the study
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Significance of the study
1.6 Government minister-audience interactions
1.6.1 Rationale for the government minister-audience interactions   ………
1.6.2 The Ministerial Platform (TMP) ........................................................................7
1.6.3 The National Good Governance Tour (NGGT) of Nigeria
 1.7 Contextualisation of the government ministers-audience political interactions
1.8 Clarification of terms
1.8.1 Strategies
1.8.2 Politics
1.8.3 Political discourse
1.8.4 Persuasion
1.8.5 Political Interaction

CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.0 Introduction
2.1 Discourse
2.1.1 Types of discourse
            2.1.1.1 Spoken discourse ..................................................................................... 15
            2.1.1.2 Written discourse ..................................................................................... 17
2.1.2 Discourse Analysis (DA)
2.1.3 Principles of Discourse Analysis (DA)
2.2 Political discourse
2.2.1 Genres of political discourse
2.2.2 Political speeches ............................................................................................ 27
2.2.3 Political manifestoes........................................................................................ 28
2.2.4 Parliamentary debates ..................................................................................... 28
2.2.5 Political interviews.......................................................................................... 29
2.2.6 Policy documents .........................,.................................................................. 29
2.2.7 Public sphere dialogues .................................................................................. 30
2.3 Approaches to studies within political discourse
2.3.1 Politics as science
2.3.2 Politics as text
2.3.3 Politics as talk
2.3.3.1 Political talk as conversation.................................................................... 32
2.3.3.2 Political talk as speech.............................................................................. 33
2.3.3.3 Meaning in political talk........................................................................... 33
            2.3.3.4 Political talk as acts.................................................................................. 34
            2.3.3.5 Political talk as a means of co-operation................................................. 36
            2.3.3.6 Political talk as politeness........................................................................ 37   
2.3.3.7 Political talk as ideology and power display........................................... 38
2.3.4 Politics as persuasion
2.3.5 Politics as interaction
2.4 Persuasion, rhetoric and politics
2.4.1 Rhetoric
2.4.2 Persuasion
2.4.2.1 Aspects of persuasion............................................................................... 47
 2.4.2.2 Studies on persuasion
2.4.3 Discourse strategies
2.5 Theoretical perspectives
2.5.1 Theoretical framework for the study
 2.5.1.1 van Dijk (1980)'s Action Theory (AT)......................................................53 
2.5.1.2 Halliday (1985)'s Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL)....................... 57
  2.5.1.3 McGaan (2009)'s Rational Model of Persuasion (RMP) and Fisher (1984 and 1987)'s Narrative Paradigm of Persuasion (NPP).....    60
2.5.2      Application of the theoretical framework to this study
2.6 Summary of this chapter

CHAPTER THREE
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.0 Introduction
3.1 Pilot study
3.2 The present research
3.2.2 Choice of texts
3.2.3 Text collection and method of selection
3.2.4 Sampled texts and sources of data
3.2.5 Method of data collection
3.2.6 Methods of sourcing data from texts for each research question
3.3 Presentation of data in tables
3.3.1 Quantitative data presentation
3.3.2 Qualitative data presentation

CHAPTER FOUR
ANALYSIS OF DISCURSIVE ISSUES AND DISCOURSE STRATEGIES IN GOVERNMENT MINISTER-CITIZEN INTERACTIONS
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Major discursive issues of the government minister-citizen interactions
4.1.1 How to ensure good governance and national development
4.1.1.1 Good governance.................................................................................... 108
 4.1.1.2 National development............................................................................. 112
4.1.2      Problems and challenges militating against national development
4.13      Steps being taken to ensure national development
   4.1.3.1 Things that are already done................................................................... 121
 4.1.3.2 Things that are being done...................................................................... 123
4.1.3.3 Things that will be done.......................................................................... 126
4.1.4 The need for collaboration between the populace and the government in fostering national development
4.2 Discourse strategies in government minister-citizen interactions and functions
4.2.1 Discourse strategies as deployed by the citizenry
4.2.2 Information eliciting strategies.......... ........................................................... 134
4.2.3 Emotive strategies.......................................................................................... 137
4.2.4 Campaign strategies....................................................................................... 140
4.2.5 Affirmative strategies
 4.3 Discourse strategies by government ministers/officials
4.3.1 Descriptive strategies: using metaphors
.3.2 Evidence based strategies: using statistics.
4.3.3 Reiterative strategies achieved with repetitions..............................................
4.3.4 Credibility building strategies: through positive self-presentation
4.3.5 Interest arousing strategies: using of rhetorical questions:
4.3.6 Nerve-relaxing strategies: the use of humour:
4.4 Contextual factors and their influence on the discourse interactions

CHAPTER FIVE
THE VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR OF CITIZEN’S REACTIONS AND MINISTER’S RESPONSES IN THE POLITICAL INTERACTIONS
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Lexical devices and functions in texts
5.1.1 Lexical choices ..............................................................................................
5.1.2 Lexicalisation 
5.1.3 Lexical reiteration
5.1.4 Lexical relation
5.1.5 Collocations
5.2 Grammatical features and their functions in texts
5.3 Transitivity process in texts1
5.3.1 Verbal process ............................................................................................... 221
.3.2 Material process............................................................................................  222
5.3.3 Mental process .............................................................................................. 223
5.4 Modality features in texts
5.5 Cohesion and coherence

    5.5.1 Cohesion ....................................................................................................... 226

        5.5.1.1 Substitution............................................................................................  228
 5.5.1.2 Ellipsis ................................................................................................... 230
 5.5.1.3 Conjunctions........................................................................................... 232
  5.5.2 Coherence...................................................................................................... 234
5.6 Strategies for persuasion identified in texts
5.6.1 Beliefs identified in texts
 5.6.2 Attempt at reinforcing beliefs
5.6.3 Attempts at changing perceptions held on beliefs
 5.6.4 Attempts at changing attitude towards beliefs
5.6.5 Attempts at changing actions
5.7 Conclusion ............................................................................................................... 250

CHAPTER SIX
AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION OF PUBLIC ASSESSMENT OF DISCOURSE STRATEGIES AND PERSUASION IN GOVERNMENT MINISTER-AUDIENCE INTERACTIONS
6.0 Introduction
6.1 Empirical analysis of the persuasive values of the discourse strategies
6.2 Report and discussion on respondents’ responses to the questionnaire
6.3 Findings and conclusions based on the questionnaire survey

 CHAPTER SEVEN
SUMMARY, GENERALISATION AND CONCLUSION
7.0 Introduction
7.1 Summary
7.2 Generalisations
7.3 Suggestions for further studies
7.4 Conclusion.......................................................................................................282
REFERENCES
Appendices

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APA

Henry, A (2020). Discourse Strategies and Public Assessment of Persuasion in Government Ministers-Audience Political Interactions in Nigeria. Afribary.com: Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://afribary.com/works/discourse-strategies-and-public-assessment-of-persuasion-in-government-minister-citizen-interaction-in-nigeria

MLA 8th

Abaya, Henry. "Discourse Strategies and Public Assessment of Persuasion in Government Ministers-Audience Political Interactions in Nigeria" Afribary.com. Afribary.com, 20 Sep. 2020, https://afribary.com/works/discourse-strategies-and-public-assessment-of-persuasion-in-government-minister-citizen-interaction-in-nigeria . Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

MLA7

Abaya, Henry. "Discourse Strategies and Public Assessment of Persuasion in Government Ministers-Audience Political Interactions in Nigeria". Afribary.com, Afribary.com, 20 Sep. 2020. Web. 25 Nov. 2020. < https://afribary.com/works/discourse-strategies-and-public-assessment-of-persuasion-in-government-minister-citizen-interaction-in-nigeria >.

Chicago

Abaya, Henry. "Discourse Strategies and Public Assessment of Persuasion in Government Ministers-Audience Political Interactions in Nigeria" Afribary.com (2020). Accessed November 25, 2020. https://afribary.com/works/discourse-strategies-and-public-assessment-of-persuasion-in-government-minister-citizen-interaction-in-nigeria