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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The subtle honesty of words: Symbols that shape American politics
by McHugh, Patrick J., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010, 225; 3408870
Abstract (Summary)

This project brings new textual-analysis tools to the study of political symbolism and shows that we must take language more seriously as a political institution. I argue that symbols shape how we think about the world and are the medium that allows us to negotiate collective decisions. The following chapters demonstrate that political actors reveal their beliefs, goals, and philosophical disagreements through the language they use. We also see how politicians' language is shaped, in a variety of ways, by the strategic environment. If we want to know what politicians intend to do, it is often more prudent to heed the symbols they use than to listen to the explicit promises they are making. This project touches on a variety of subfields in political science, including political communication, parties, elections, interest groups, legislative behavior, and political theory. In each case, it is clear that political science must consider how language organizes the systems we struggle to know. While we tend to view political language with a jaundiced eye, this project repeatedly demonstrates that it is at the heart of how collective decisions are made.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: MacKuen, Michael
Commitee: Aldrich, John, Carsey, Tomas, Jacoby, William, Stimson, James
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Communication, Political science
Keywords: Elections, Parties, Political party, Politics, Symbolism, Text analysis, United States
Publication Number: 3408870
ISBN: 978-1-124-05462-9
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