Silence and Concealment in Political Discourse

Melani Schröter | University of Reading
ISBN 9789027206398 | EUR 90.00 | USD 135.00
ISBN 9789027272102 | EUR 90.00 | USD 135.00
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This book constitutes a significant contribution to political discourse analysis and to the study of silence, both from the point of view of discourse analysis as well as pragmatics, and it is also relevant for those interested in politics and media studies. It promotes the empirical study of silence by analysing metadiscourse about politicians’ silence and by systematically conceptualising the communicativeness of silence in the interplay between intention (to be silent), expectation (of speech) and relevance (of the unsaid). Three cases of sustained metadiscourse about silent politicians from Germany are analysed to exemplify this approach, based on media texts and protocols of parliamentary inquiries. Ideals of political transparency and communicative openness are identified as a basis for (disappointed) expectations of speech which trigger and determine metadiscourse about politicians’ silences. Finally, the book deals critically with the role of those who act as advocates of ‘the public’s’ demand to speak out.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Melani Schröter has provided us with a much needed and incisive investigation of discursive absences and the metadiscourse about such absences. The silence of politicians is something that should concern us as much as, if not more than, their noisy media messages. This is a timely book.”
“Based on detailed analyses of three cases of high-profile “silences” in German political discourse over the past decades, Schröter’s book provides innovative insights into the strategic function of communicative concealment and its treatment in the media and parliamentary enquiry as well as its effects on democracy. It thus makes an important contribution to the communicative ethics of political discourse.”
“In this book, Melani Schröter examines silence, or more specifically the metadiscourse of silence. Basing her approach on Bühler’s Organon model of communication, and on critical discourse analysis, the author investigates how the silence of leading German politicians was discussed in the media. She analyzes first the attitude of a Bundestag committee to the silence of Helmut Kohl in the CDU party donation scandal of 1999-2001, then the silence of the Barschel scandal of 1987-88, in which three leading members of the opposition in Schleswig-Holstein – who were the victims of the scandal – knew about the intrigues going on against them, but kept silent, and finally, bringing the silence of politicians up-to-date, she analyzes the silence of the present German chancellor Angela Merkel – her so-called "collected silences".
Schröter gives a thorough account of the events that provide the context for the silences, and presents an exhaustive discussion of the metadiscourse of silence. Politicians are expected to speak, to communicate with the electorate. Their silence in this context does not mean “not speaking” but “failure to talk about a given matter”, i.e. 'silence about'. She proposes a Gricean-inspired cooperative principle: ‘do not be silent when speech is expected’ and ‘do not talk when silence is expected’, whose violation leads to implicatures – interpretations of the silence derived from the context and from the assumption that the politician may have something to conceal.”
“Melani Schröter’s book Silence and Concealment in Political Discourse constitutes an insightful contribution to the fields of communication studies, discourse analysis, pragmatics, and in particular, it provides a better understanding of communicative and meaningful silences in political discourse.”
“In addition to the great theoretical insights it offers, readers can also expect to explore practical values in the attested research methods adopted in empirical studies. More significantly, it opens up possible avenues of research that encourage innovative application of combined and cross-disciplinary approaches in discourse studies.”
Cited by

Cited by 39 other publications

Alcántara-Plá, Manuel & Ana Ruiz-Sánchez
2018. Not for Twitter: Migration as a Silenced Topic in the 2015 Spanish General Election. In Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse,  pp. 25 ff. DOI logo
Augsten, Pauline, Sebastian Glassner & Jenni Rall
2022. The Myth of Responsibility: Colonial Cruelties and Silence in German Political Discourse. Global Studies Quarterly 2:2 DOI logo
Brito Vieira, Mónica, Theo Jung, Sean W. D. Gray & Toby Rollo
2019. The Nature of Silence and Its Democratic Possibilities. Contemporary Political Theory 18:3  pp. 424 ff. DOI logo
Cappellaro, Giulia, Amelia Compagni & Eero Vaara
2021. Maintaining Strategic Ambiguity for Protection: Struggles over Opacity, Equivocality, and Absurdity around the Sicilian Mafia. Academy of Management Journal 64:1  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Dahaam, Ziyad Ahmed
2019. A Pragmatic Analysis of Communicative Silence in Natural Interactions: ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ Movie as a Case Study. Journal of Tikrit University for Humanities 26:11  pp. 28 ff. DOI logo
Derry, Caroline
2020. Introduction. In Lesbianism and the Criminal Law,  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Durrheim, Kevin & Amy Jo Murray
2019. Conclusion: Topographies of the Said and Unsaid. In Qualitative Studies of Silence,  pp. 270 ff. DOI logo
Guillaume, Xavier
2018. How to do things with silence: Rethinking the centrality of speech to the securitization framework. Security Dialogue 49:6  pp. 476 ff. DOI logo
Hansen, Ejvind
2022. Searching for the fourfold in critical discourse analysis. Philosophy & Social Criticism  pp. 019145372211455 ff. DOI logo
Hansson, Sten
2015. Discursive strategies of blame avoidance in government: A framework for analysis. Discourse & Society 26:3  pp. 297 ff. DOI logo
Hering, Robin & Bernhard Stahl
2022. When mass atrocities are silenced: Germany and the cases of Yemen, South Sudan, and Myanmar. Journal of International Relations and Development 25:3  pp. 608 ff. DOI logo
Kupiainen, Paula, Katri Komulainen, Päivi Eriksson & Hannu Räty
2023. Is older entrepreneurship being silenced? A policy analysis of Finnish government programmes. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 35:9-10  pp. 746 ff. DOI logo
Lewis, David
2016. Blogging Zhanaozen: hegemonic discourse and authoritarian resilience in Kazakhstan. Central Asian Survey 35:3  pp. 421 ff. DOI logo
Marcus, Geetha
2019. Power and Silence: The Social Construction of Gypsies and Travellers. In Gypsy and Traveller Girls [Studies in Childhood and Youth, ],  pp. 27 ff. DOI logo
Marković, Jelena
2020. The Silence of Fear, Silencing by Fear and the Fear of Silence. Narodna umjetnost 57:1  pp. 163 ff. DOI logo
McLaren, Helen J. & Tejaswini Vishwanath Patil
2016. Manipulative silences and the politics of representation ofboat childrenin Australian print media. Continuum 30:6  pp. 602 ff. DOI logo
Meijer, Marlies, Joanna Zuzanna Popławska & Bianca Szytniewski
2023. Spaces of Decoupling in the Netherlands and Poland: Emerging Local Governance Networks for Hosting Non-EU Migrants in Peripheral and Shrinking Areas. Journal of International Migration and Integration 24:S5  pp. 839 ff. DOI logo
Moss, Sigrun Marie & Marte C. W. Solheim
2022. Shifting Diversity Discourses and New Feeling Rules? The Case of Brexit. Human Arenas 5:3  pp. 488 ff. DOI logo
Murray, Amy Jo
2020. The Unsaid as Expressive and Repressive Political Communication: Examining Slippery Talk About Paid Domestic Labour in Post-apartheid South Africa. In Political Communication,  pp. 283 ff. DOI logo
Murray, Amy Jo & Kevin Durrheim
2019. Introduction: A Turn to Silence. In Qualitative Studies of Silence,  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Murray, Amy Jo & Kevin Durrheim
2019. “There was much that went unspoken”: maintaining racial hierarchies in South African paid domestic labour through the unsaid. Ethnic and Racial Studies 42:15  pp. 2623 ff. DOI logo
Murray, Amy Jo & Kevin Durrheim
2021. Maintaining the Status Quo through Repressed Silences: The Case of Paid Domestic Labour in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Sociology 55:2  pp. 283 ff. DOI logo
Murray, Amy Jo & Nicole Lambert
2019. Intimate Silences and Inequality: Noticing the Unsaid through Triangulation. In Qualitative Studies of Silence,  pp. 89 ff. DOI logo
Méndez-Guerrero, Beatriz & Laura Camargo-Fernández
2024. The Use of Silence in Conversation among Women in Spanish: An Expression of Feminine Conversational Style?. Languages 9:3  pp. 97 ff. DOI logo
Pappert, Steffen & Kersten Sven Roth
2022. Keine Texte. tekst i dyskurs - text und diskurs :16 (2022)  pp. 25 ff. DOI logo
Schröter, Melani
2021. Rationality and Moderation: German Chancellors’ Post-War Rhetoric. In When Politicians Talk,  pp. 93 ff. DOI logo
SchrÖter, Melani
2022. Bildliche und bildhafte Darstellungen des Schweigens. In Grenzgänge: Eine Spritztour durch Text-, Stil- und Zeichengefilde,  pp. 225 ff. DOI logo
Schröter, Melani & Charlotte Taylor
2018. Introduction. In Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse,  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
Schrӧter, Melani
2019. The Language Ideology of Silence and Silencing in Public Discourse. In Qualitative Studies of Silence,  pp. 165 ff. DOI logo
Schweiger, Elisabeth
2015. The risks of remaining silent: international law formation and the EU silence on drone killings. Global Affairs 1:3  pp. 269 ff. DOI logo
Schweiger, Elisabeth
2022. Fighting silence covert warfare and the uphill battle against the unsaid. European Journal of International Relations 28:1  pp. 110 ff. DOI logo
Shukrun-Nagar, Pnina
2020. The right to speak and the request to remain silent: who owns politicians’ Facebook pages?. Israel Affairs 26:1  pp. 26 ff. DOI logo
Takovski, Aleksandar & Nenad Markovikj
2017. Macedonia outside “Macedonia”. Journal of Language and Politics 16:5  pp. 731 ff. DOI logo
Thurlow, Crispin & Jamie Moshin
2018. What the f# at $!: Policing and Performing the Unmentionable in the News. In Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse,  pp. 305 ff. DOI logo
Verjee, Aly
2024. Routine but Consequential: How Ceasefire Monitors’ Reporting Constructs Opportunities for (Non)Compliance by Conflict Opponents. International Peacekeeping  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
von Münchow, Patricia
2018. Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in Identifying Meaningful Absences in Discourse. In Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse,  pp. 215 ff. DOI logo
Wang, Jiayi & Dániel Z. Kádár
2018. Silence and Absence in Chinese Smog Discourses. In Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse,  pp. 191 ff. DOI logo
[no author supplied]
2013. Publications Received. Language in Society 42:5  pp. 605 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 17 june 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Communication Studies

Communication Studies

Main BIC Subject

CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2012050683 | Marc record