Open Access Repository

Populist discourse : an Adornian rhetorical analysis of the emotional appeal of Pauline Hanson's One Nation


Downloads per month over past year

Bobrowski, Christina Laura 2004 , 'Populist discourse : an Adornian rhetorical analysis of the emotional appeal of Pauline Hanson's One Nation', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

PDF (Whole thesis)
whole_Bobrowski...pdf | Download (12MB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.

| Preview


This thesis offers a sociological explanation for the electoral appeal of Pauline
Hanson's One Nation (PHON) by performing a discourse analysis of the parties
manifesto. This manifesto is comprised of the public speeches, parliamentary
speeches and media releases of PHON delivered during the period of Hanson's term
in the Australian Federal Parliament 1996-1998. The analysis is a synthesis of
methodological approaches originated by Theodor Adorn and Erving Goffrnan.
These approaches are rhetorical analysis and frame analysis. The combination of these
approaches augmented by the simultaneous identification of key thematic domains
allows the discourse analysis to be linked to issues canvassed by the Australian
Election Study 1998 (AES 1998).
It is proposed in the thesis that Hanson's political style is of the populist type that is
demonstrated to be increasingly prevalent in Western politics. It is the paucity of
sociological explanation that focuses on the manifestos of contemporary populist
politics in order to understand the mechanism of appeal of such political movements
that warrants this in-depth analysis of an Australian example of the phenomena. Firstly, the work of Adorno is revisited by considering the historical climate in which
he was working in the 1930s including the development of The Frankfurt School.
During this time, Adorn developed a 'Gallery of Tricks and Devices' for analysing
the radio programs of the fascist Presbyterian preacher, Martin Luther Thomas. The
Gallery is actually a typology of rhetorical devices that Adorn identified in the
speech of Thomas. Thomas employed a populist style and is known for his emotional appeals to his audience. This typology was then applied to the manifesto of 116
documents comprised of public and parliamentary speeches and media releases
produced in Hanson's name from her election to Federal Parliament in 1996 until her
defeat in 1998. The objective of this step of the discourse analysis was to assess the
utility of Adorno's typology. A content analysis was also performed to ascertain the
weighted means of the prevalence of the devices within each of the document
categories. The results suggested that the typology required some revision to enhance
its suitability for the efficient analysis of contemporary populist discourse. A Revised
Typology was formulated and applied. This new typology has the potential to be
useful in the analysis of the manifestos of a variety of political movements.
This rhetorical analysis gives insight into the potential impact on listeners of
particular excerpts of speech. The impact is the transference of messages about
particular issues and is frequently emotive in tone. The incidence of each rhetorical
device is composed of one or more sentences. The key issues identified were grouped
according to theme. Three key thematic domains are identified and are labelled
Cultural, Social and Economic Sovereignty. A contemporary form of Goffman's (1974) frame analysis developed by Snow and
Benford (1986) informs the scrutiny of the discourse. The purpose of this step of the
analysis is to ascertain what the overall potential impact of the collective effect of the
rhetorical devices is on audiences. The term applied by Snow and Benford to describe
the collective impact of the meaning of a particular discourse is Master Frame. It is
asserted that the Master Frame of the PHON discourse is an Identity Frame. It has
been suggested that a factor lacking in frame analysis generally, is the absence of the acknowledgement of the role of emotion in attracting people to political or social
movements. The incorporation into the analysis of the application of a rhetorical
typology addresses this shortcoming. It also serves to identify the emotional
component of the discourse that is associated with the populist political style.
The thesis claims that PHON's appeal is founded on successfully communicating its
master frame to the constituency via its populist style. Furthermore that that this
populist style relies heavily on emotionally charged presentations by the leader. The
identification of the key thematic domains of the discourse is necessary in order to
establish if there is indeed a link between the master frame of the discourse and
PHON's appeal to the constituency. This is achieved by the statistical analysis of the
AES 1998 data set.
The first step of this analysis was to create a reliable scale to measure respondents
'feelings' towards PHON's leader, Pauline Hanson. Ten items were selected from the
data sets that address aspects of respondent's feelings towards Hanson. This scale was
labelled the Emotional Energy Scale following Randall Collins' (1988b) definition of
this concept. The data set was then searched for items that addressed issues encapsulated by the
thematic domains. Section D. Election Issues, E. Social Policy and G. Constitution,
Rights and Minorities were found to contain items that corresponded to the thematic
domains. Section D. related to Economic Sovereignty; Section E. related to Social
Sovereignty and Section G. related to Cultural Sovereignty. Factor analysis was used
to create scales from items within each of these sections that addressed issues that
dominated the PHON manifesto. Regression analysis was then employed. The results
indicate that high levels of positive Emotional Energy for Hanson is predictive of
shared attitudes towards issues by respondents with Hanson.
This suggests that there is a strong correlation between the feelings held for people
towards PHON and the level of support for PHON's position on issues. These
findings indicate that Hanson successfully employed populist rhetoric to achieve a
remarkable level of support for her new political party. However it must be
acknowledged that an audience already existed for whom the PHON message could
The demographic characteristics of PHON this audience of voters has been described
at length elsewhere and this work is acknowledged. It must however be appreciated
that though Pauline Hanson has experienced the inevitable decline of the charismatic
leader, those who demonstrated support for her still reside in the electorate. These
people may still be waiting for the right 'style' of voice to emerge on the political
scene to represent them. This thesis provides an innovative approach for
understanding the mechanism of populist appeal in contemporary politics. It proposes
a revised typology for assessing populist rhetoric and it is the first thorough,
systematic analysis of PHON's manifesto.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Bobrowski, Christina Laura
Keywords: Hanson, Pauline (Pauline Lee), Pauline Hanson's One Nation, Populism
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page