Meeting the challenge on the path to democracy: discursive strategies in governmental declarations

Christina Schäffner, Peter Porsch

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The communicative practice in the ex-GDR was complex and diverse, although public political discourse had been fairly ritualized. Text-types characteristic of the Communist Party discourse were full of general (superordinate) terms semantic specification was hardly possible (propositional reduction). Changes in the social world result in changes in the communicative practice as well. However, a systematic comparision of text-types across cultures and across ideological boundaries reveals both differences in the textual macro- and superstructures and overlapping as well as universal features, probably related to functional aspects (discourse of power). Six sample texts of the text-type `government declaration', two produced in the ex-GDR, four in the united Germany, are analysed. Special attention is paid to similarities and differences (i) in the textual superstructure (problem-solution schema), (ii) in the concepts that reflect the aims of political actions (simple worlds), (iii) in the agents who (are to) perform these actions (concrete vs abstract agents). Similarities are found mainly in the discursive strategies, e.g. legitimization text actions. Differences become obvious in the strategies used for legitimization, and also in the conceptual domains referred to by the problem-solution schema. The metaphors of construction, path and challenge are of particular interest in this respect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-55
Number of pages23
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1993


  • conceptual domain
  • discursive strategies
  • government declaration
  • language in the ex-GDR
  • macrostructure
  • metaphor
  • propositional reduction
  • public political discourse
  • superstructure
  • text actions


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