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Title: Rhetorical and represented agency in Thai political science texts on the 2006 'coup d'état'
Contributor(s): Wijeyewardene, Ingrid  (author); Zhang, Zuocheng  (supervisor)orcid ; Macken-Horarik, Mary  (supervisor); Unsworth, Leonard  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2017
Copyright Date: 2016
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: This thesis analyses agency in Thai political science texts written at the time of the 2006 'coup d'état'. The rhetorical work of political scientists who write about political events deserves close attention. Intervening in debates about contentious political events is not only rhetorically challenging but can also be professionally and personally fraught for public intellectuals. It is important to understand the linguistic mechanisms by which these scholars exercise agency and persuade readers to a particular point of view. The study argues that agency in discourse can be explored from two perspectives: the agency exercised by writers as they take part in social practices, including in the construction and presentation of their texts, and the agency represented in the content of the texts as social actors are construed as taking part in social practices. These two perspectives are referred to respectively as rhetorical and represented agency. The study seeks to make explicit the linguistic resources that Thai political scientists deploy in the exercise and representation of these two dimensions of agency within the broader context of an escalating social and political conflict. The analysis of rhetorical and represented agency in political science texts requires a theory of language use in social contexts. Systemic functional linguistics (SFL), with its functional model of language oriented to social processes, provides a useful set of resources to analyse agency. SFL provides a theory of genre through which to explore rhetorical agency, in particular, the genres that the writers deploy and how these genres are staged and information flow is managed through the discourse semantic resources of periodicity. SFL also provides a theory of how writers position their texts in relation to other texts and other voices in the resources of appraisal. SFL's theory of grammar, particularly experiential grammar, accounts for the ways in which experience is construed in the clause to determine who does what to whom, under which circumstances and to what effect. To this end, SFL theories of transitivity and Hasan's (1985) -cline of dynamism" are also useful for the analysis of represented agency. The study supplements these SFL tools of analysis with reference to other theories of language and text. In particular, in the analysis of rhetorical agency, the concept of interdiscursivity draws on the work of Bhatia (2010) and Fairclough (2013) to help understand the ways in which texts appropriate different genres and the voices of others. Van Leeuwen's (2008) socio-semantic network also allows for a more delicate analysis iv of the lexical realisations of social actors in the texts that carry both ideological and rhetorical import. The data for the study comprise three texts produced by three well-known Thai political scientists. One text was published online on a university website, one was a keynote speech that was later published as an article in a journal, and the third was an academic article published in the same journal. Rhetorical agency is analysed in terms of the genres of argumentation that are deployed and how meanings are packaged in the three texts in a hierarchy of periodicity using the resources of Theme and New, hyperTheme and hyperNew and macroTheme and macroNew. Rhetorical agency is also characterised by the manner in which the writers appropriate other texts and discourses, which is analysed by means of the discourse semantic resources of appraisal, specifically the resources of engagement. Rhetorical agency is also analysed in terms of van Leeuwen's social actor network, which highlights patterns in the representation of social actors in the texts to reveal the ideological basis of some of these actors. Represented agency is explored through a transitivity analysis to reveal how these social actors are represented as agents or affected participants in the clause. In addition, the analysis of participants and processes in terms of the cline of dynamism highlights more subtle aspects of the representation of agency in these difficult circumstances and offers insights into the values and discourses inherent in the texts. The study demonstrates that a wide range of generic and linguistic resources was deployed to express agency in the Thai political science texts. The writers combined and blended genres and incorporated other voices and discourses in their texts in novel and creative ways. The analysis of represented agency provided clues to the political stance of each of the writers at the time of the coup. A more nuanced understanding of represented agency was established through an analysis of the representation of social actors in terms of the cline of dynamism. These results suggest that a linguistic theory of rhetorical agency requires a broad view of genre to include the notion of interdiscursivity and the integration of clause-level analyses to unpack text in context. Finally, this study illustrates how the exercise and representation of agency is both enabled and constrained not only by relationships of power but also by the linguistic resources available to the Thai writers.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 200401 Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 930199 Learner and Learning not elsewhere classified
Rights Statement: Copyright 2016 - Ingrid Wijeyewardene
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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Appears in Collections:School of Education
Thesis Doctoral

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