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Hegemony and the Intellectual Function : Medialised Public Discourse on Privatisation in Sweden 1988-1993

Sunnercrantz, Liv LU (2017)
Abstract (Swedish)
This dissertation offers a theorisation of the ways in which the intellectual function is performed through various subject positions. In the thesis, a post-Marxist approach to discourse theory is used to address questions of discursive shifts, hegemony and the intellectual function. It is supplemented by a rhetorical political analysis in order to examine how practices and strategies involved in hegemonic struggles take place on a more fine-grained level of analysis. The theoretical argument is complemented through empirical work that analyses the medialised debate on privatisation in Sweden from 1988 to 1993. As a step in the theorisation process this empirical analysis applies elements of both post-Marxist discourse theory and... (More)
This dissertation offers a theorisation of the ways in which the intellectual function is performed through various subject positions. In the thesis, a post-Marxist approach to discourse theory is used to address questions of discursive shifts, hegemony and the intellectual function. It is supplemented by a rhetorical political analysis in order to examine how practices and strategies involved in hegemonic struggles take place on a more fine-grained level of analysis. The theoretical argument is complemented through empirical work that analyses the medialised debate on privatisation in Sweden from 1988 to 1993. As a step in the theorisation process this empirical analysis applies elements of both post-Marxist discourse theory and rhetorical political analysis to shed new light on the intricacies of the intellectual function and the hegemonic processes in which it plays a key part. Using a post-Marxist terminology, the intellectual function is conceived broadly as the articulation and mediation of ideology, and analysed with the aid of conceptual devices derived from the rhetorical political analysis approach. Empirical analysis thus plays an active, constitutive role in the production of theory. This also implies that empirical analysis is not undertaken primarily as an end in itself, but rather because it is needed to support the theorisation process. Nevertheless, the analysis of the privatisation debate in Sweden elucidates important discursive changes that took place in this decisive period of recent Swedish history.

The focus of the study is directed towards the shifts in ways of defining and speaking about the concept under contention (in this case, privatisation) in a relational setting of concepts and political positionings; the formation and performance of an intellectual function and the types of subject positions made available in the debate, and the rhetorical practices used to inhabit such positions; and the rhetorical and political strategies employed to achieve (relative) fixation of a particular definition of privatisation by making it (appear to be) commonsensical. The analysis shows how a common sense centred on the right to private ownership, is established in the privatisation discourse.

By disentangling moral and efficiency-based arguments, the empirical analysis provides novel insights that contradict existing economistic assumptions about neoliberal politics and ideologies. By fleshing out the post-Marxist notion of an intellectual function, the study offers a way of conceptualising a post-foundationalist theory of intellectuals. Moreover, performances of the intellectual function are typologised into three ideal types: “experts”, “spokespersons”, and “public intellectuals”. The dissertation also points to processual changes in the representation of these ideal types in mainstream and alternative media.

By analysing discursive practices of coalitions building and the articulation of political frontiers in the privatisation discourse, the empirical analysis elucidates constructions of unity and division among political subjects. What emerges from these processes is a new hegemonic order which supplants the previous hegemonic formation – which became the common enemy across political lines – the social democratic welfare state.
Populärvetenskaplig beskrivning
How can the apparently far-fetched utopian beliefs of a few marginalised ideologists become the frame of reference for all public discourse in a short period of time? Certain ideas come to dominate an entire debate, time, or society and become an accepted truth through processes of naturalisation. Different active practices and processes contribute in making particular perspectives gain interpretive privileges: arguments resonate, concepts stick, and ideologies become common sense. Ideas and meanings are disseminated, inscribed, and institutionalised in the social world with far-reaching consequences. The question is how. How does one go about setting the agenda that shapes the debate?

This dissertation is a contribution to the theoretical development concerning hegemony and the intellectual function. To make sense of meaning-making struggles, dominance, and interpretative privilege in the debate, the notion of “intellectuals” is reconceptualised through a critique of conventional perspectives and an empirically grounded analysis. The analysis is focused on utterances in the medialised debate on privatisation in Sweden during the crisis years of 1988 to 1993, and conducted with inspiration from post-Marxist discourse theory and rhetorical political analysis. By examining the processes, practices, and strategies involved, the study shows how a hegemonic struggle unfolds around the meaning of “privatisation”. (Less)
Abstract
This dissertation offers a theorisation of the ways in which the intellectual function is performed through various subject positions. In the thesis, a post-Marxist approach to discourse theory is used to address questions of discursive shifts, hegemony and the intellectual function. It is supplemented by a rhetorical political analysis in order to examine how practices and strategies involved in hegemonic struggles take place on a more fine-grained level of analysis. The theoretical argument is complemented through empirical work that analyses the medialised debate on privatisation in Sweden from 1988 to 1993. As a step in the theorisation process this empirical analysis applies elements of both post-Marxist discourse theory and... (More)
This dissertation offers a theorisation of the ways in which the intellectual function is performed through various subject positions. In the thesis, a post-Marxist approach to discourse theory is used to address questions of discursive shifts, hegemony and the intellectual function. It is supplemented by a rhetorical political analysis in order to examine how practices and strategies involved in hegemonic struggles take place on a more fine-grained level of analysis. The theoretical argument is complemented through empirical work that analyses the medialised debate on privatisation in Sweden from 1988 to 1993. As a step in the theorisation process this empirical analysis applies elements of both post-Marxist discourse theory and rhetorical political analysis to shed new light on the intricacies of the intellectual function and the hegemonic processes in which it plays a key part. Using a post-Marxist terminology, the intellectual function is conceived broadly as the articulation and mediation of ideology, and analysed with the aid of conceptual devices derived from the rhetorical political analysis approach. Empirical analysis thus plays an active, constitutive role in the production of theory. This also implies that empirical analysis is not undertaken primarily as an end in itself, but rather because it is needed to support the theorisation process. Nevertheless, the analysis of the privatisation debate in Sweden elucidates important discursive changes that took place in this decisive period of recent Swedish history.

The focus of the study is directed towards the shifts in ways of defining and speaking about the concept under contention (in this case, privatisation) in a relational setting of concepts and political positionings; the formation and performance of an intellectual function and the types of subject positions made available in the debate, and the rhetorical practices used to inhabit such positions; and the rhetorical and political strategies employed to achieve (relative) fixation of a particular definition of privatisation by making it (appear to be) commonsensical. The analysis shows how a common sense centred on the right to private ownership, is established in the privatisation discourse.

By disentangling moral and efficiency-based arguments, the empirical analysis provides novel insights that contradict existing economistic assumptions about neoliberal politics and ideologies. By fleshing out the post-Marxist notion of an intellectual function, the study offers a way of conceptualising a post-foundationalist theory of intellectuals. Moreover, performances of the intellectual function are typologised into three ideal types: “experts”, “spokespersons”, and “public intellectuals”. The dissertation also points to processual changes in the representation of these ideal types in mainstream and alternative media.

By analysing discursive practices of coalitions building and the articulation of political frontiers in the privatisation discourse, the empirical analysis elucidates constructions of unity and division among political subjects. What emerges from these processes is a new hegemonic order which supplants the previous hegemonic formation – which became the common enemy across political lines – the social democratic welfare state. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Docent Palonen, Emilia, University of Helsinki
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Hegemony, Intellectuals, Discourse, Welfare State, Privatization, Neoliberalism, Hegemony, Intellectuals, Discourse, Welfare State, Privatization, Neoliberalism
pages
336 pages
publisher
Printed in Sweden by Media-Tryck, Lund University
defense location
Kulturens hörsal, Tegnérsplatsen, Lund
defense date
2017-12-19 10:15
ISBN
978-91-7753-471-6
978-91-7753-472-3
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
fb770098-001e-4287-8272-b5d001eecf75
date added to LUP
2017-11-27 12:25:43
date last changed
2017-11-27 15:30:11
@phdthesis{fb770098-001e-4287-8272-b5d001eecf75,
  abstract     = {This dissertation offers a theorisation of the ways in which the intellectual function is performed through various subject positions. In the thesis, a post-Marxist approach to discourse theory is used to address questions of discursive shifts, hegemony and the intellectual function. It is supplemented by a rhetorical political analysis in order to examine how practices and strategies involved in hegemonic struggles take place on a more fine-grained level of analysis. The theoretical argument is complemented through empirical work that analyses the medialised debate on privatisation in Sweden from 1988 to 1993. As a step in the theorisation process this empirical analysis applies elements of both post-Marxist discourse theory and rhetorical political analysis to shed new light on the intricacies of the intellectual function and the hegemonic processes in which it plays a key part. Using a post-Marxist terminology, the intellectual function is conceived broadly as the articulation and mediation of ideology, and analysed with the aid of conceptual devices derived from the rhetorical political analysis approach. Empirical analysis thus plays an active, constitutive role in the production of theory. This also implies that empirical analysis is not undertaken primarily as an end in itself, but rather because it is needed to support the theorisation process. Nevertheless, the analysis of the privatisation debate in Sweden elucidates important discursive changes that took place in this decisive period of recent Swedish history. <br/><br/>The focus of the study is directed towards the shifts in ways of defining and speaking about the concept under contention (in this case, privatisation) in a relational setting of concepts and political positionings; the formation and performance of an intellectual function and the types of subject positions made available in the debate, and the rhetorical practices used to inhabit such positions; and the rhetorical and political strategies employed to achieve (relative) fixation of a particular definition of privatisation by making it (appear to be) commonsensical. The analysis shows how a common sense centred on the right to private ownership, is established in the privatisation discourse. <br/><br/>By disentangling moral and efficiency-based arguments, the empirical analysis provides novel insights that contradict existing economistic assumptions about neoliberal politics and ideologies. By fleshing out the post-Marxist notion of an intellectual function, the study offers a way of conceptualising a post-foundationalist theory of intellectuals. Moreover, performances of the intellectual function are typologised into three ideal types: “experts”, “spokespersons”, and “public intellectuals”. The dissertation also points to processual changes in the representation of these ideal types in mainstream and alternative media. <br/><br/>By analysing discursive practices of coalitions building and the articulation of political frontiers in the privatisation discourse, the empirical analysis elucidates constructions of unity and division among political subjects. What emerges from these processes is a new hegemonic order which supplants the previous hegemonic formation – which became the common enemy across political lines – the social democratic welfare state.},
  author       = {Sunnercrantz, Liv},
  isbn         = {978-91-7753-471-6},
  keyword      = {Hegemony,Intellectuals,Discourse,Welfare State,Privatization,Neoliberalism,Hegemony,Intellectuals,Discourse,Welfare State,Privatization,Neoliberalism},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {336},
  publisher    = {Printed in Sweden by Media-Tryck, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Hegemony and the Intellectual Function : Medialised Public Discourse on Privatisation in Sweden 1988-1993},
  year         = {2017},
}