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Chapter 2. ‘Stability overwhelms everything’

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Abstract

This chapter examines how the Chinese Communist Party has employed the discourse of stability to legitimate its authority since 1989. At the theoretical level, the Weberian understanding of legitimation is situated within the strategic-relational approach in order to better conceptualize the role played by discourse in legitimating regimes. At the methodical level, the stability discourse is analyzed using the discourse-historical method and particular attention is paid to the presentation of actors and the argumentation strategies employed to legitimate and delegitimate these actors. The People’s Daily newspaper is the site of analysis and three exceptional instances are selected for analysis: the 1989 ‘Beijing Spring’; 1999 ‘anti-Falun Gong’ campaign; and the 2005 ‘anti-Japan’ demonstrations. The main finding is that stability is ‘discursively flexible’, with its positive value consistently working to legitimate the Party-State’s authority and the negative value delegitimating the assigned ‘other’. Keywords: Legitimation; strategic-relational approach; discourse-historical method; critical discourse analysis; media; Chinese Communist Party; Falun Gong; Tiananmen Square; Sino-Japanese relations

References

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