19.3. The EU may have won the minds, but not the hearts of European politicians

Doctoral dissertation in the field of English language and culture 

Doctoral candidate MA Attila Krizsan

Time and venue Saturday 19.3. 2011 at 12 noon, Agora (AT100),Joensuu campus

A doctoral study by Attila Krizsán (MA) in the field of English language and culture examines the ways in which British, Finnish and Hungarian politicians speak in the names of different groups of people on the topic of European integration.

The research examines a vast collection of official statements delivered by British, Finnish and Hungarian representatives between 1998 and 2004 on the largest ever EU enlargement, the fifth enlargement round of the EU, in order to find systematic linguistic patterns that highlight the ways these representatives identify with certain groups of people. Methodologically the project belongs to the latest trends of discourse studies that is made possible by recent innovations in computer based textual analysis, statistics and novel systematic descriptions of language use. Because of their novelty, there has been no attempt previously to apply the methods used in this dissertation to official statements in current European political discourse.

The findings indicate that politicians, regardless of their national backgrounds, mostly represent the EU in connection to its doings and achievements, while the majority of their feelings, thoughts and opinions are reserved for their representations of their own nations. These patterns reflect the limitations set out on ‘being European’ by the EU’s current political situation. To put it in other words, the findings illustrate that the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU does not only appear in the lack of popular support for the EU by its citizens, but it is also reflected in the ways European politicians relate to the Union. This indicates that trying to increase support for the EU as a political project in practice may not work the way it is desired by the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.

Being based on a large amount of linguistic data, the findings in this work can be considered to reflect general tendencies. It is very likely that the patterns of identification highlighted by this research are to be found in other spheres of EU political discourse as well. Therefore, the results of the detailed analysis help to comprehend how the EU as a political project works in practice. This, among other things, can aid decision makers to find ways in which public support for the European polity can be increased. But beyond all these, this research also demonstrates what modern linguistic studies can do for our deeper understanding of political and social issues that influence all of us in various societies that we live in. And in the era of information society, being aware of how the world -not just the material, but also the social world- works around us is a must in order to be fully in charge of our own lives.

The doctoral dissertation of Master of Arts Attila Krizsan, entitled The EU is not them, but us! : The first Person Plural and the Articulation of Collective Identities in European Political Discourse will be examined at the philosofical faculty.The opponents in the public examination will be Professor Greg Myers of the University of Lancaster and Docent Susanna Shore of the University of Helsinki. The custos will be Professor Markku Filppula of the University of Eastern Finland.

Attila Krizsan was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1977. He has completed his matriculation examination at Városmajor Secondary Grammar School in Budapest in 1996 and the degree of Master of Arts at the University of Szeged in 2003, majoring in American studies. He has been working as a teacher at the University of Eastern Finland during 2008–2010 and he currently works as a researcher at the University of Helsinki (2009–2012).

Publishing information: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK. In press. ISBN (PDF) 1-4438-2860-2, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-2860-4.

Photo available for download at http://www.uef.fi/vaitoskuvat

Contact: Attila Krizsan, tel. 045-1361232, attila.krizsan(at)uef.fi

Publishing year: 2011

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