Language and power
Reproducing the discourse
in Writing the war on terrorism
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The 'war on terrorism' as a political discourse has both unique and generic characteristics, as well as continuities and discontinuities from previous counter-terrorism approaches. This chapter considers the discourse as a totality and looks at the forest rather than just individual trees. The role of the media is critical to the success of any political discourse because in modern societies it is the main transmission belt or conduit between politics and society. At one level, the power of the discourse is due to its internal construction; it is a coherent, appealing and reassuring narrative for Americans which restores the confidence and sense of purpose which was so severely undermined by the terrorist attacks. On another level, political discourses only rise to prominence in this way when other social actors reproduce and amplify the language across the wider society.

Writing the war on terrorism

Language, politics and counter-terrorism

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