The rise of choice as an absolute ‘good’: A study of British manifestos (1900–2010)
In this article we report on a corpus-based study of the lexical item ‘choice’. ‘Choice’ was previously found to be a keyword in Jeffries and Walker’s (2012) study of political discourse from the New Labour years, occurring more frequently in newspaper articles during that period (1998–2007) than in those dating from the years in which John Major was Prime Minister (1990–1997). The current project investigates the use of ‘choice’ in British general election manifestos between 1900 and 2010. We first of all carry out a quantitative study of the use of ‘choice’ by the three main UK political parties across this time period, before undertaking a qualitative study of the use of the word in context. Our approach is informed by work in lexical meaning and critical stylistics, and demonstrates how ‘choice’ has taken on new semantic meanings in a political context.
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