The reproduction of culture through argumentative discourse: Studying the contested nature of Hong Kong in the international media

Shi-xu and Manfred Kienpointner

Abstract

Discourse and communication approaches to culture have traditionally been concerned with the role of language in (mis)representing cultures. But how text and talk reproduce and transform cultures is just beginning to be understood. Proceeding from the view that cultural creation, development and transformation are constituted in and through situated discursive practice, this study explores the interconnections between argumentative discourse and cultural reproduction. The research is based on multinational and multilingual data of journalistic communication on Hong Kong’s historic transition. It is shown that the causes of Hong Kong’s economic success, as an important cultural feature, are used as arguments to undermine contrary claims. It is also revealed that the future development of Hong Kong is being constrained by the argument ad baculum. In addition, it is observed that Hong Kong’s identities are used as bases for prescribing desired course of action. Finally, these argumentative strategies are re-examined in their broader historical and cultural context in order to show how Hong Kong’s past, present and future are cultural realities bound up with Western desire and power.

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