Discussion, dispute or controversy?
Paradigms of conflict-driven parliamentary practices
As parliamentary debates increasingly display rising levels of political conflict, the polarized and aggressive polemical exchanges in Prime Minister’s Questions are impacting the current agenda-setting and consequently public perceptions and assessments. To get a deeper understanding of the discourse strategies and argumentation practices used in the conflict-driven interaction between opposition MPs (particularly the Leader of the Opposition) and the Prime Minister, the present investigation has been carried out at macro- and micro-levels in an interdisciplinary perspective integrating Dascal’s (1998, 2008) typology of polemical exchanges and Ilie’s (2015a, 2018) pragma-rhetorical approach. At the macro-level, the aim is to account for the context-specific functions of three main types of polemical exchanges, i.e. discussions (focused on establishing the truth), disputes (focused on winning the argument) and controversies (focused on persuading the adversary/audience). At the micro-level, the aim is to examine the interplay and the extent to which the three polemical exchanges crisscross, overlap and/or complement each other through the use of three recurring metadiscourse strategies, i.e. definitions, quotations and parentheticals.
Keywords: polemical exchange, parliamentary, discussion, dispute, controversy, definitions, quotations, parentheticals
Published online: 29 October 2020
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