Businified Political Discourse on the State of the South African Nation: A Dialogue between Presidential Speeches and Newspaper Reports


Dr. Irina Turner

Research Area:


South Africa has long been in the focus of the academic world due to its precedence character in developing from apartheid to a postmodern democracy. Between 1994 and today, four presidents have each left their distinctive handwriting in the history of the young republic. Although all presidents originate from the same ideological school of the African National Congress (ANC), globalization has driven the ruling party from a socially oriented to a neo-liberal agenda. The annual state-of-the-nation address (SoNA) serves as a communication marker of this development. The content of the speeches is anchored in public memory through media frames. Both politics and media are to some extent also influenced by the business world. The assumption is that there is an overall shift to a corporate language. This development, which I call businification, describes the infiltration of political and media texts with language, frames, and habits from a business ideology.

Through applying an interdisciplinary approach that combines critical discourse and content analysis, this project aims at making visible reciprocal power relationships among the fields of media, politics and business in South Africa. The project’s objective is to show how the historical shifts towards neo-liberalism in South Africa are reflected in the rhetorical gestures of the country’s narrators.


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