Gender Sensitivity in Parliamentary Discourse an Appraisal Approach: Gender Sensitivity in Parliament

Gender Sensitivity in Parliamentary Discourse an Appraisal Approach: Gender Sensitivity in Parliament

Khanyile Khumalo (Midlands State University, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8094-2.ch009

Abstract

The call for gender equality has taken the world by storm in all facets of life. This study explores four gender-themed parliamentary debates for appraisal and evaluative language. The study was prompted by the increasing importance of parliaments in today's world and the role they play in shaping decisions that affect society. The appraisal theory has been used to analyze the evaluative language that was used by parliamentarians in gender themed parliamentary debates with the aim of finding out if members of parliament conform to the dictates of these instruments or if the appraisal and evaluative resources they use render them as gender sensitive or not. The corpus of the study has been four gender-themed parliamentary debates which were taken from the national assembly Hansard of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively. The study has concluded that there are mixed views in parliament with regards to gender equality and this is reflected in the presentations by the different speakers. Some members of parliament are gender sensitive while some are still insensitive.
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Background And Rationale Of The Study

Parliaments are among the most important, dynamic institutions of democratic societies which facilitate dialogue, deliberations, decision making and problem solving on germane issues within a country (Illie 2015). The increased importance of parliaments in today’s societies is one of the reasons that prompted the researcher to embark on the proposed study. Agreeably Illie (2010) argues that the importance of parliamentary discourse cannot be over-emphasised. She notes that the increase in paradigm shifts and political polarisations have also exacerbated the need to scrutinise the discourse that express the political agendas, the argumentation strategies, the deeper stimuli and the ultimate objectives of actors on the political stage in general, and particularly in parliamentary institutions. She further notes that despite all this importance, not much research has been done on the linguistic strategies, argumentation patterns of parliamentarians and parliamentary discourse as a whole (Illie 2010d) hence the need for research to be conducted in the field. In further emphasising the importance of parliaments and parliamentary discourse, Illie (2015, p. 2) opines that if we are to understand the role of parliamentary discourse practices in identifying, defining and articulating the citizen’s concerns and interests, we need to explore the recurring linguistic patterns and rhetorical strategies used by MPs that help to reveal their ideological commitments, hidden agendas and argumentation tactics in order to reveal their hidden agendas and ideological bias. Studies of this nature will pave way for researchers, linguists and discourse analysts to examine varied interpersonal positioning, parliamentary roles, rules and practices in parliamentary discourse. The studies also help by questioning parliament’s adherence to policies and instruments that they have crafted and ratified and as well argue to be in support of. The chapter thus uncovers overt and covert ideological pursuits, commitments and agendas of Members of Parliament, with regards to gender by probing their use of evaluative language.

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