投稿者 Ofer Feldman：2023年7月1日
The growth of right-wing populism and the emergence of such world leaders as Donald Trump (in the USA), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Turkey), Viktor Orban (Hungary), Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines), and Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), who often used rudeness, uncivil language, and hostile speech aimed at political opponents, government officials, members of the media, and segment of the public, have boosted scholarly and popular concern in political incivility discourse.
The concept of incivility is perceived along social norms or rules of conversation. In contrast to civil interaction characterized as respectful contact and consideration of diverse viewpoints, uncivil discourse is regarded as the absence of the free and respectful exchange of different ideas. Uncivil language often centered around a conflict at its center. In political discourse, incivility occurs mainly through verbal behavior. This includes rude, offensive, belittling, and insulting language; vulgarity and pejorative speech; intentional lies and misrepresentation; personal aspersion or derision of ideas; name calling; character assassination; and gross exaggeration. It can also include non-verbal behavior, such as eye-rolling or ignoring the opponent.
One aspect within incivility discourse that received only a little scholarly attention is debasement. Just as incivility is widespread in the world, debasement in politics is also seen as a global phenomenon. Debasement discourse is regarded as the use of derogatory language, either by speaking or by writing, including any type of insinuation, insult, abuse, and belittling, often by employing rhetorical devices such as irony, cynicism, sarcasm, mockery, and ridicule, with the aim to decrease, or reduce the worth, quality, value, status, or reputation of a specific target. This target can be an individual, or a group of people – whether or not actors in a formal political institution – based on their actual or perceived characteristics, their behaviors and attitudes, strategies, programs, intentions, orientations, and views.
There are various elements related to the nature and function of debasement, its components, and its effects. These include the intent of the ostensible debaser; the way the language is understood by the target (the receiver, or the audience) under specific circumstances (e.g., social situation, culture); the explicit and implicit styles of debasement language; the distinction from incivility on the one hand and hate speech on the other; and the way debasement in political discourse can be observed, assessed, and studied, with in its narrow and broad senses, including the use of name-calling, and character assassination or character attack (ad hominem attacks).
The interaction between debaser(s) and target(s) is manifold and multi-faceted in that debasers convey their remarks to members of the political elite or members of the public in various settings, towards diverse people, in different manners. Two recently published new books (see below) addressing related issues, used diverse theoretical and methodological approaches to underline the need for further research in this area. These books are regarded as a first step towards a solid organization of knowledge on political debasement, with the goal of indicating some common threads that run along the case studies from East to West. They provide a firmer and broader source of information and perspective to encourage others to follow up with additional thoughts, discussion, and research in multiple directions, methodologies, and theoretical revisions. To that end, most of the chapters conclude with ideas for future studies based on their findings, offering broader suggestions regarding such research possibilities.
Ofer Feldman, Debasing Political Rhetoric: Dissing Opponents, Journalists, and Minorities in Populist Leadership Communication. Springer, 2023.
Ofer Feldman, Political Debasement: Incivility, Contempt, and Humiliation in Parliamentary and Public Discourse. Springer, 2023.