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Positioning groups across time: a qualitative analysis of the use of temporal account in commemorative political statements

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The present study explores how the leaders of two political parties, the party in power New Democracy (ND) and one of the parties in opposition SYRIZA, depict ingroups and outgroups using a past, present or future account, when representing their group identities. It focuses on commemorative statements made by political leaders on the anniversaries of the restoration of the Greek democracy in 1974. Statements from five different years are analysed: 2004 (the year when Greece hosted the Olympic Games and values of democracy were associated with the Olympic ideals), 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 (two of the years of economic crisis). Analysis concerns the rhetorical framing of the restoration of democracy by leaders, focusing on the use of past, present or future account in group representations. Findings identified three key issues around which political leaders shape their temporal account: temporal slippage from past categories to the current political parties versus horizontal comradeship between them, reflections on ingroup history versus expected future outcomes, denial of spatiotemporal co-existence of competing groups versus ongoing co-existence between ingroups and outgroups across time in the political landscape. Findings are discussed under the light of social identity theory and the consideration of different temporal accounts as identity maintenance strategies.
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Keywords: Identity; ingroup; outgroup; time

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Loughborough University, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough, United Kingdom

Publication date: July 3, 2017

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