The Rhetoric of Political Leadership
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The Rhetoric of Political Leadership

Logic and Emotion in Public Discourse

Edited by Ofer Feldman

This timely book details the theoretical and practical elements of political rhetoric and their effects on the interactions between politicians and the public. Expert contributors explore the issues associated with political rhetoric from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including political science, linguistics, social psychology and communication studies. Chapters examine what makes a speech effective, politicians’ use of moral appeals in political advertising, political attacks on social media, and gender and emotion in political discourse.
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Chapter 9: Politicians use of moral appeals in British political advertising 1983–2017

Annemarie Walter

Abstract

Political parties’ use of moral appeals not only expresses their commitment to particular moral principles, but also reflects their strategic choices, such as which voter groups they target. Although scholarly interest in parties’ use of moral rhetoric is growing, only a few studies examine moral rhetoric in election campaigns and they primarily do so in the U.S. This is the first study to examine the extent to which and in what way British political parties make use of moral appeals in U.K. general election campaigns. We analyze 125 party election broadcasts in U.K. general election campaigns between 1983 and 2017 using a dictionary-based approach. Using the Moral Foundation Dictionary, we find that British political parties differ in their use of moral appeals within and across elections. This study finds limited support for Moral Foundation Theory’s expectation that Liberals tend to emphasize individual foundations and Conservatives binding foundations.

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