Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Applied Linguistics

First Advisor

Baertsch, Karen

Second Advisor

Fuller, Janet

Abstract

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) approaches the study and critique of social inequality by focusing on the role of discourse in the production and reproduction of dominance, which is defined as the exercise of social power by elites, institutions or groups, that results in social inequality, including political, cultural, class, ethic, racial, and gender inequality (van Dijk, 1993, pp. 249-250). One important social issue that be examined in any given culture in terms of dominance and inequality is gender. The historical discussion of the present study is used to suggest that institutions in political power have weaved a thread of propaganda throughout Germany's history that has used its citizen's sense of folk community for its own agenda and has consistently put women in the secondary role in terms of their contributions to the state. The present study examines the roles of women in Germany's democratic political culture of the present and compares these roles to roles of women in the Third Reich, based on popular media images of women and men, Nazi Propaganda and current issues of der Spiegel. Nazi propaganda is generally recognized as being highly "effective" in its potential for altering mass consciousness. Magazines like der Spiegel with wide scale distribution and political clout among readers in Germany are also in a position to influence the social environment. Some examples of linguistic and visual distortion that are illustrated by the data were selective use of direct quotation where authority is given to certain groups of people and is withheld from others, role allocation where specific groups of people are described through selective roles, and assimilation where other than the elite everyone is blended into a homogeneous group. The present study suggests this type of implicit interpretational distortion serves the same function as the Nazi propaganda in an even more effective manner precisely because it is implicit and indirect.

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