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Leadership and social construction – a discursive analysis of Churchill’s wartime rhetoric

Kingscott, Ben (2013) Leadership and social construction – a discursive analysis of Churchill’s wartime rhetoric. University of Loughborough.

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Abstract

"The New Psychology of Leadership" (Haslam, Reicher & Platow, 2011) emphasises the causal role played by social cognition in the ways people categorise themselves, compare themselves with others and attribute leadership qualities. The problem with this causal account is that the “processes” of categorisation and comparison are taken for granted, and the role of rhetoric in their construction is left undeveloped. Discursive psychology envisages these cognitive processes as something being actively constructed through discourse. Drawing upon recent work on political rhetoric and the discursive tradition a piece of culturally and historically significant rhetoric (Winston Churchill's first wartime broadcast) was analysed. Haslam et al.’s ideas surrounding category membership, social identity and leader prototypicality as processes of leadership were shown to be not purely cognitive constructs, but rhetorical actions achieved in discourse working towards rhetorical aims.

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