Exploring the Concept of Youth Bulge From a Linguistic Perspective: A Critical Discourse Approach

Exploring the Concept of Youth Bulge From a Linguistic Perspective: A Critical Discourse Approach

Magret Jongore (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9388-1.ch012


The chapter tackles youth bulge according to a number of scholars. The analysis aims at bringing forth understanding of the concept from a linguistic perspective. In linguistics, any text can be analyzed using linguistic tools to unearth context, syntax, and semantics, pragmatic and socio-linguistic elements that inform it. Analysis of the likes of Callick, Hendrixson, Fantorpe, Collier, and others on youth bulge is done. Critical discourse analysis is used for analysis. CDA observes that texts are manifestations of politics. Texts are sites for struggle to maintain, influence, and persuade the general to respect the social order of the day. Thus, texts are replication of the society that reproduce them. Texts serve to maintain the powerful in their esteemed positions. Thus, texts are ideological and hegemonic in nature. Text reveals in language and visuals as signs, dress and artifacts. Thus, the chapter avails a number of standpoints of what youth bulge entails and institutes CDA to unravel politically and ideological permeated aspects of the concept.
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Much talk is evident on and around Youth bulge as a concept. Remarkably is the fact that the West and the African voices on this issue are conflicting. The West in line with demographer’s discernment confer the concept as a curse. While African voices of the concept are inclined towards lamenting the exclusion of the youth in Governance and active participation in politics. Thus, from the incompatible analysis of the Youth bulge Concept, the chapter administers a linguistic scrutiny of this Concept. Moreover, little has been done in questing the language used in the critiquing of the Youth Bulge Concept. Or rather much of the literature laments the rapid increase in the youth without considering the socio-cultural traits of the African people. Therefore, a linguistic perspective quizzes the linguistic focus of the theory. The wording ‘Youth bulge’ literally speaks to the swelling of the youth population a phenomenon in most African countries. The swelling according to the youth bulge theory proponents is generally not desirable and a time bomb of some sort. This being the case, a linguistic perspective to the concept informs this Chapter in the sense that the wording and critiquing of a phenomenon is not neutral. The wording is loaded with ideological, hegemonic, manipulative and unequal power relations (Fairclough 2016). The linguistic analysis opinions concepts such as the “Waithood” Nader Kabbani (2019) closely linked to the Youth Bulge theory do not only speak to the situation on ground but act to provoke and set the agenda of the proponents of the theory. Thus, the theory much as it seeks to show the world over the glaring and imminent timebomb scenarios to befell Africa, the linguist come in with questioning the rationality, politics and ideological perspectives to the wording of the Youth Bulge Theory. The linguistic perspective here seeks to unravel politically permeated discourses imbedded in the crafting of the Youth Bulge Theory. The Chapter seeks to explore if it is Africa or the West that seeks to assert the Youth increase as problematic. Thus, in this disposition the chapter seeks as well to explain the discourse of Youth Bulge as a manifestation of unequal power relations, ideological and hegemonic tendencies of the West in propagating the popular reality of the day from their definition. It would be best at this juncture to give a brief background to the Critical Discourse Analysis a linguistic analytical tool instituted in the Youth Bulge Concepts in the Chapter.

Background of the CDA Approach

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a conceptual framework and a way of looking at text emerged in the early 1990s, following a small symposium in Amsterdam, in January 1991. Through the support of the University of Amsterdam, Teun van Dijk, Norman Fairclough, Gunther Kress, Theo van Leeuwen and Ruth Wodak spent two days discussing theories and methods of Discourse Analysis, specifically CDA (Wodak, 2004).

Jongore (2017) citing Wodak (2004) points out that, the meeting made it possible to confront the very distinct and different approaches, which have, of course, changed significantly since 1991 but remain relevant, in many respects. In this process of group formation, the differences and similarities were laid out: differences about other theories and methodologies in Discourse Analysis and sameness in a programmatic way, both of which frame the range of theoretical approaches (Wodak, 2004).

From the symposium, CDA has been characterized by the shared interests in de-mystifying ideologies and power through the systematic and reproducible investigation of semiotic data (written, spoken or visual). Critical Discourse Analysis researchers agree to attempt to make their positions and interests explicit while retaining their respective scientific methodologies and while remaining self-reflective of their research processes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discourse Analysis: In this chapter discourse refers to language in concreate use. That is language used by politician, demographers and any other speaker in describing a phenomenon. Therefore, the language which is in use has to be examined using language tools to examine the meaning of the wording.

Critical discourse analysis: A way of examining language not as grammatical tool but as how it is used in real life situation. The examination of language goes beyond a sentence construction to embraces meaning outside a sentence. It looks at the social aspect of utterances in terms of the political situation on ground. CDA observes that language is not neutral. Any language or wording is informed by the intention of the speaker who wants to influence the listen to see reality the way he sees it. The speaker also wants to be influential therefore have power to affect the way others think and handle themselves in everyday life.

Ideological Inclination: A world view. The standard measure of what is proper and what is not proper what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. A subtle way of dictatorship. Dictating how reality should be observed and handled who should be influencing who and who is supposed to be politically powerful and supported all the times.

Youth Bulge: The increase of the young people in an area as compared to the working class and the old age. The bulging of the young is because there is less infant dying of hygiene factors or ill health from malnutrition. Mothers are fertile such that they give birth to more children who survive. A pyramid kind of a population structure shows more under the age of 15-25. These are University and secondary school levers who are not being able to contribute meaningfully to the economy through either formal employment of political mileage.

Hegemonic: A tendency of supporting the elitist perspective for continued existence of those in power. That is the executive fashions statutes instruments which will promote them and not threaten their occupation of their offices. The government of the day decides on what news to tell to the public that will make the public support them. Avoiding any talk that will pose problems or result in the public question the authorities that be. Banning all Media platforms that may result in threatening the elite.

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