Political myth as a legitimation strategy
The case of the golden age myth in the discourses of the Third Way
Golden age myths as an answer to political crises are a recurrent phenomenon. This article demonstrates how the idea of a past golden age as the answer to a crisis of society was employed in the discourses of the Third Way: At the turn of the 20th century, the Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany and New Labour in Britain employed a golden age myth to define their politics. Analysing a corpus of texts from the Labour Party and the SPD between 1990 and 2005, this article demonstrates how global ideological trends are locally legitimized differently through the use of local political myths. The major contribution to the field of political discourse analysis lies in the discussion of mythopoesis as a legitimatory strategy, as well as in the analysis of the local adaptation of the golden age myth, which draws on Laclau’s discourse theory and its idea of empty signifiers.
Keywords: comparative political discourse analysis, legitimation, political myth, empty signifier, one nation, Soziale Marktwirtschaft, Germany, United Kingdom, New Labour, SPD
Published online: 14 December 2018
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