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Understanding audience affiliation in response to political speeches in Japan

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Affiliative response invitations were analysed in 38 speeches delivered during the 2009 Japanese general election by 18 candidates for the House of Representatives (the lower house of the National Diet of Japan). The results clearly replicated those reported by Bull and Feldman (2011) in their analysis of the 2005 Japanese general election. Highly significant correlations were found between the two studies not only for the overall pattern of affiliative responses, but also for each type of response (applause, laughter and cheering). In both studies, over 70% of affiliative responses occurred in response to explicit invitations from the speaker. This contrasts with British political meetings, where applause occurs principally in response to implicit rhetorical devices. However, the candidates’ electoral success showed no significant correlations either with overall affiliative response rate, or with rates for applause, laughter or cheering. It is proposed that the prime function of affiliative response invitations at these meetings is not so much to win votes as to give the audience the opportunity to express their support both for the candidates and for the political parties they represent.
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Keywords: applause; audience affiliation; cheering; laughter; political speeches; rhetorical devices

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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