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Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

57 Although

57 Although parliamentary debates represent an influential and authoritative genre of discourse, few studies on this subject were carried out before the late 1990s (see Carbó, 1992; Rojo and Van Dijk, 1997; Seidel, 1988, 1989; Van Dijk, 2000; Van der Valk, 2000; Wilson, 1990). Largely in agreement with Carbó (1992), a parliamentary debate can be defined as a highly structured institutional and political speech-event whose main declared goal is to produce legal and policy instruments for the benefit of the nation. Van Dijk (1997, 2000) discusses the general structural, functional, and contextual properties of political discourse by focusing on parliamentary debates in particular, thus offering a specific framework of analysis. He argues that political discourse may primarily be defined and studied contextually in terms of the participating actors, their social function, goals, and the political institutions and cognitions involved. Van Dijk also points out that parliamentary discourse is so influential to the general political discourse that it profoundly affects political discourse in other political arenas including the mass media. 2.5.3 Issue Attention and Framing in Parliament and Media This study attempts to compare newspapers‟ framing of issues arising out of post- elections periods in Malawi against parliamentary framing in similar periods. To be able to systematically do so, the study needs to identify a measure that will work equally for both corpora. Identifying similarities and differences in these arenas can help in identifying such a measure. This study distinguishes between how often and how prominently an issue is presented and on which aspects of an issue a presentation will focus on. The former has to do with agenda-setting theory (See McComb and Shaw, 1972) while the latter has to do with frame theory analysis. In the comparative study of issues in the political arena and the media, scholars have used McComb and Shaw

58 (1972)‟s agenda-setting theory instrumental as a heuristic tool. This is mainly because agenda-setting is quite amenable to the measurement of attention to issues (See Dearing and Rogers, 1996 for an overview). While the concept of agenda-setting can be used to study political debates and compare various agendas (Baumgartner and Jones, 1993; Walgrave and Van Aelst, 2006), frame theory analysis has gained prominence as a tool for examining policy documents (Hajer and Wagenaar, 2003). Because of this, even though it is still hobbled by varied conceptualisation and measurement issues, frame theory analysis has been increasingly employed in examining the content of both media and parliamentary records (See De Vreese, 2005; Scheufele, 1999). The study aims to examine the issues as they are presented in both parliament and newspapers. The interest is not in the parliamentary and newspapers agenda. The interest is in the manner the issues are presented in both arenas. In this respect, frame theory analysis appears to be the proper heuristic tool to use. As will be noted in the following chapter, this study will use Entman‟s (1993, p./2003, p.5)‟s conceptualisation of frames as an analytical tool. This approach is suitable for analysing both newspapers and parliamentary records as it will provide a structured way of analysing the corpora through the specific examination of articles for problem definitions, causal interpretations, moral evaluations and treatment recommendations. Different issues are articulated in both the parliamentary and the media arena through the use of these frame components. Thus, theoretically a frame can exist of each possible combination of these components. 2.6 Conclusion

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