Loughborough University
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Empire of rhetorics : a discursive/rhetorical approach to the study of Japanese monarchism

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posted on 2013-12-11, 13:47 authored by Sachihiko Kondo
This thesis takes a discursive/rhetorical approach to the topic of support for modern constitutional monarchy. It examines in detail some of the rhetorical devices used by modern Japanese speakers when they discuss monarchism. In so doing the thesis highlights both the discursive and social dilemmas involved in contemporary monarchism. In Britain, another constitutional monarchical state, critical psychologists have analysed what have been called 'dilemmas of lived ideology' (BiIIig et al., 1988). Billig (1992) analysed ordinary people's discourses about British monarchism. He points out that people employ dilemmatic themes as they justifY, mitigate and make sense of their own non-privileged positions under egalitarianism. I use Billig's work as a main reference, and apply his analytical frameworks (discursive psychology) for my investigation ofJapanese monarchism. Amongst several features ofJapanese conversation, I focus on its complicated naming and honorific systems. These systems almost always encode power structures amongst speaker-addressee, speaker-referent as well as addressee-referent relationships. Analysing people's mundane (family) conversations about the Emperor system, I have found contradictory rhetorical common-places, which are not always voiced explicitly, but are often formulated implicitly through these linguistic implications (i.e. naming, honorifics). Moreover, these codes have to be managed in their particular discursive contexts where the different systems of showing honour can conflict. By analysing news articles, in addition, I focus on a terminology which is employed exclusively to describe an Emperor's death. Lookingat the contexts in which terms are used (and not used), the process of construction ofthe social reality (i.e. monarchism under egalitarian social norm) is illustrated. Through my analysis, I believe, a new perspective for Japanese monarchism is introduced: people represent the institutional reality and accept the inequality simultaneously through mundane discursive interaction.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Sachihiko Kondo

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en