The role of adversarial discourse in political opposition
Prime Minister’s questions and the British phone-hacking scandal
The focus of this study is on the role played by adversarial questioning in political opposition. As an illustrative example, a detailed analysis is presented of two sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions in the UK House of Commons (6 and13 July, 2011), in which the Leader of the Opposition (Ed Miliband) challenged the Prime Minister (David Cameron) regarding his handling of the British phone-hacking scandal. The study is conceptualized in terms of theories of politeness (Brown and Levinson 1978, 1987) and impoliteness (Culpeper 1996), also in terms of the concept of follow-ups (Sinclair and Coulthard 1975). It is argued that this analysis has implications for all three linguistic conceptualizations, furthermore that PMQs, despite its many detractors and deficiencies, can play an important role in sustaining political dialogue and political accountability through adversarial questioning.
Keywords: British phone-hacking scandal, Prime Minister’s Questions, political opposition, adversarial questioning, face, follow-ups, impoliteness, politeness
Published online: 03 September 2013
Cited by 3 other publications
Sealey, Alison & Stephen Bates
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