(Re)manufacturing consent in English
A corpus-based critical discourse analysis of government interpreters’ mediation of China’s discourse on PEOPLE at televised political press conferences
Unlike the use of force or coercion, the articulation of ideological discourse constitutes a softer approach in the legitimation and hegemonic rule of dominant political actors, achieved through manufacturing consent (Gramsci 1971). As a major site of ideology, the televised premier’s press conferences in China represent such a discursive event, enabling the Chinese government to convey its discursive formations or “regime of truth” (Foucault 1984) and in doing so to manufacture consent. Benefitting from a corpus containing 20 years of China’s Premier-Meets-the-Press conference data (1998–2017), this corpus-based critical discourse analysis (CDA) study explores the government-affiliated interpreters’ mediation and (re)construction of China’s discourse on PEOPLE. The interpreters are found to reinforce China’s discourse on PEOPLE (e.g., increased mentions of PEOPLE-related items) and (re)construct a more positive image of Beijing being people-oriented and concerned with its people in English (e.g., the repeated employment of ‘our people’). An examination of the collocational patterns relating to the item ‘people’ (e.g., people’s, of/to/for/by*people) (re)presented in the English discourse sheds light on the government‒people ties in China. This article highlights the government interpreters’ vital agency role in image (re)construction and in contributing to the government’s political legitimation and hegemonic rule, particularly given the increasingly mediat(is)ed world we live in.
Keywords: manufacturing consent, political legitimation, hegemony, discourse on people, corpus-based CDA, interpreter mediation, political discourse, political press conferences, premier’s press conferences
Published online: 14 October 2019
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