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Common destiny?: a critical discourse analysis of the independence debate between France and New Caledonia
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:32 authored by Margo Lecompte-Van Poucke
Mainly drawing on Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and pragma-dialectics, this critical discourse analysis explains why the consensus obtained through the independence debate between France and New Caledonia does not constitute the results of a cooperative dialogue between the two discourse communities, but rather a French strategy to maintain a status quo. The study explores how a newly emerging identity for the nation of New Caledonia iscollectively constructed through various discursive acts of negotiation while simultaneously being affected by external power relations. These acts of meaning are firmly placed within the context of the ongoing dialogue between France and New Caledonia concerning the latter’s bid for full independence, a critical issue that formed the impetus for the research project.The study aims to elucidate how three politicians, as representatives of the main stakeholders in the debate, construe their own perceived reality of a “common destiny” and how they depict themselves in terms of power and influence. It looks at their underlying attitudes and concerns and how they express these discursively. It further investigates how they attempt to influence the outcome of the debate and how their social representations translate into reasons for selecting a particular course of action. Finally, it critically investigates what kind of consensus is reached as a result of the negotiation process and questions the reasonableness of the overall debate.Three French discourse samples, two speeches and one interview, are selected for this purpose. Any relevant linguistic features in the excerpts are described using a Hallidayan functional approach in order to explicate various significant lexicogrammatical choices made by the three protagonists: Jean-Marie Tjibaou, Lionel Jospin and Jacques Lafleur. These linguistic findings are then integrated as evidence in a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), which follows the logic from Pragma-Dialectics to reconstruct and evaluate the argumentative structure of the political discourse. It is shown how the social representations of each of the communities, together with their imagined realities, motivate and manipulate the consensus and eventually cause a cross-cultural clash.