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Friend or foe. The defamation or legitimate and necessary criticism? Reflections on recent political discourse in Austria.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date10/2002
JournalLanguage and Communication
Number of pages23
Original languageEnglish


This paper illustrates the necessity of very differentiated approaches to context when analyzing political discourses. Specifically, the case of antisemitic rhetoric will be regarded because antisemitic beliefs were tabooed in official domains, in postwar Austria. Nevertheless, politicians continued to use such prejudices for political purposes. Certain linguistic devices, like presuppositions and insinuations can only be understood and interpreted when enough co-text and context knowledge is assumed. The paper argues for an interdisciplinary approach in the Social Sciences, because such complex problems, like populism, racism or antisemitism cannot be grasped by one traditional discipline. It also argues for an intertextual approach which regards historical developments and socio-political factors while analyzing discourses.