The use of language as an influencing tool in leadership: a way of understanding Brexit

148  Download (0)

Full text


The use of language as an

influencing tool in leadership:

a way of understanding Brexit

Master Thesis

Author: Jorge Ernesto Arango Terán, Pearl



New nationalist ideologies have permeated politics for the last decade. New leaders, followers, and conducive environments have emerged to cause the most controversial and unique episodes in recent politics. Brexit was selected by having a set of exclusive characteristics, factors, and social elements which resulted in the UK leaving the EU after 47 years. Additionally, two academic attributes were considered to be politically researched, which were leadership and communication techniques. The former established the relationship between two parts of society (leaders and followers) and how their roles developed during the Brexit referendum campaign, and the latter examined political language by extracting the most representative rhetorical means used by the British leaders to run it.

The set of rhetorical techniques was thoroughly investigated using a specially adopted analysis. Several examples were included in how they were performed politically and strategically to create that democratic result. To execute this study, we developed qualitative research based on a study case strategy, descriptive purpose, and by having an inductive approach. Consequently, we selected a sampling method which met specific research criteria and allowed us to analyse this political phenomenon rhetorically. Besides, our empirical data was formed by using interactive and visual material which provided a credible source of study to approach, identify, and answer our research questions. Finally, Brexit’s outcome was viewed as the end of an era in terms of faith in the benefits of globalisation, open labour markets, European integration (Norris and Inglehart, 2019), loss of identity from British individuals, and the reflection of a fractured society (Gherghina and O’Malley, 2019).

Key words

Political leadership, political followership, political environment, language, rhetorical means, influencing approaches, Brexit, the (Brexit) referendum campaign, the Remain campaign, the Leave campaign.



We would like to express our special thanks and gratitude to all those who were involved directly and indirectly in the successful preparation of this master’s thesis, especially to Lars Lindkvist and Mikael Lundgren, who, by providing us with fruitful guidelines and recommendations, played a crucial role throughout this journey.

Additionally, we would like to thank Linnaeus University, especially the School of Business and Economics and the University Library, for giving us a tailored set of tools and quality moments to develop this remarkable project. We could not have done it as well without them.

Lastly, we would like to thank our family for supporting us unconditionally throughout this period as well as the city of Kalmar for proving an outstanding academic and social environment to strengthen our skills, improve our weaknesses, and most importantly, enrich new abilities and pieces of knowledge, which will be a part of our personal and professional profiles for a long time.

Jorge, Pearl, and Diego Kalmar, Sweden June 2020


Table of Contents

1 Introduction ... 1

1.1 Background ... 1

1.2 The Importance of the Research Topic ... 4

1.3 Problem Discussion ... 5

1.4 Research Purpose and Research Questions ... 8

1.5 Research Objective ... 9

1.6 Thesis Scope and Delimitations ... 9

1.7 Thesis Outline ... 10

2 Literature Review ... 12

2.1 Introduction... 12

2.2 Political Leadership ... 13

2.2.1 Description of Political Leaders ... 14

2.2.2 Sensemaking and Management of Meaning ... 18

2.2.3 Language as an Influencing Tool ... 20

2.2.4 Narratives and Stories ... 23

2.2.5 Rhetoric ... 26 2.3 Political Followership ... 32 2.4 Political Context ... 36 3 Methodological Approach ... 39 3.1 Research Design ... 39 3.2 Empirical Data... 40 3.3 Sampling Description ... 41 3.3.1 Criteria Assessment ... 41

3.3.2 Data Collection Process ... 42

3.3.3 Sampling ... 43

3.4 Empirical Data Analysis ... 45

3.4.1 Analytical Framework ... 46

3.4.2 Documentation of Empirical Data Analysis ... 47

3.5 Ethical Matters... 49

4 Understanding Brexit ... 51

4.1 The Concept of Brexit ... 51

4.2 History of Brexit ... 52

4.2.1 Before Referendum (1975 – May 2015) ... 52

4.2.2 The Brexit Referendum Campaign (May 2015 – June 2016) ... 55

4.2.3 The Brexit Referendum Results ... 65

4.2.4 Post-Referendum Period (June 2016 – December 2020) ... 67

5 Empirical Data Analysis ... 69

5.1 Introduction... 69 5.2 Remain Campaign ... 69 5.2.1 Interactive Material ... 69 5.2.2 Visual Material... 72 5.3 Leave Campaign ... 73 5.3.1 Interactive Material ... 73


5.3.2 Visual Material... 75 6 Discussion ... 77 6.1 Rhetorical Means ... 77 6.1.1 Remain Campaign ... 77 6.1.2 Leave Campaign ... 86 7 Conclusion ... 94

7.1 Answering the Research Question ... 94

7.2 Research Limitations ... 100

7.3 Theoretical Implications ... 100

7.4 Practical Implications ... 102

7.5 Authors’ Contribution to the Work Process ... 103

7.6 Suggestion for Further Research ... 103

8 List of References ... 105


Appendix 1. Selection templates. Appendix 2. The Brexit referendum results by “counting regions.” Appendix 3. Interactive Material (transcripts) and Visual Material (Images). Appendix 4. The entire list of modal verbs in the speeches of both campaigns.

List of Tables

Table 1. Interactive material - Remain campaign ... 44

Table 2. Visual material - Remain campaign ... 44

Table 3. Interactive material - Leave campaign ... 45

Table 4. Visual material - Leave campaign ... 45

Table 5. The Brexit referendum results by country ... 66

Table 6. Epistemic modality – Remain campaign ... 78

Table 7. Deontic modality – Remain campaign ... 79

Table 8. Volitive modality – Remain campaign ... 79

Table 9. Epistemic modality – Leave campaign ... 87

Table 10. Deontic modality – Leave campaign ... 87

Table 11. Volitive modality – Leave campaign ... 88

Table 12. Rhetorical means - Remain campaign ... 94

Table 13. Rhetorical means - Leave campaign ... 94

Table 14. List of the most representative modal verbs in the speeches of both campaigns ... 98

Table 15. The Brexit referendum results by “counting regions” ... 2


List of Figures

Figure 1. Assessment and selection template – Section: Data criteria assessment ... 42

Figure 2. Assessment and selection template – Section: Selection process ... 43

Figure 3. Assessment and selection template – Section: Selection process part 2 ... 43

Figure 4. Empirical data analysis template - Interactive material ... 48

Figure 5. Empirical data analysis template - Visual material ... 48

Figure 6. The Remain campaign’s primary topics ... 58

Figure 7. The Leave Campaign’s primary topics ... 63

Figure 8. Assessment and selection template – Section: Data criteria assessment – IM-R1 ... 1

Figure 9. Assessment and selection template – Section: Selection process – IM-R1 ... 1

Figure 10. Ref. VM-R1. Photograph: Daily Mirror Headline 22/06/2016 ... 1

Figure 11. Ref. VM-R2. “The Vote Remain campaign’s bus” (Image: PA)... 1

Figure 12. Ref. VM-R3. “Cameron spoke with his voice breaking as he urged a remain vote” ... 1

Figure 13. VM-L1. Photograph: The Sun edition 14/06/2016 ... 2

Figure 14. Ref. VM-L2. “Nigel Farage Launches UKIP’s Brexit Battle Bus” ... 2

Figure 15. Ref. VM-L3. “Nigel Farage has put immigration at the heart of his Leave campaigning” ... 2




1.1 Background

Brexit, as a contemporary political phenomenon, could be studied from multiple perspectives, and it has been considered a remarkable connection to political leadership. “Brexit” is a word used to abbreviate the term “British exit” as a way of synthesising the entire United Kingdom’s process (the UK henceforth) of withdrawing economically and politically from the European Union (the EU henceforth) (Hutton, 2020). Aside from a variety of economic, political, and legal considerations, it has brought to the table diverse characteristics related to how the process was approached and executed. More specifically, Brexit has revealed new social and behavioural practices to be analysed, such as influencing techniques, ways of communicating, and the use of media as a data source. Therefore, our thesis will be focused on how those influencing techniques, based on effective communication and language, were used to achieve it.

Throughout the last two centuries of contemporary history, countries and societies have handled a wide variety of problems, issues, and necessities by creating, developing, and strengthening diverse ideologies. Some of the most remarkable historical periods during this time were characterised by religious crusades, industrial revolutions, fights for human and civil rights, and country independence. All these events have caused an incalculable impact on communities, especially in the form of political movements (Heywood, 2017).

An ideology leads a society to achieve its political targets by attracting individuals to buy their ideas (ibid.). Nationalism is one of the ideologies for whom its origins are not accurately determined. While Heywood (2017) traces its foundations to roughly two centuries ago during the French Revolution in 1789, Kedourie (1993) positions its roots in Europe in the XIX Century. Similarly, its meaning varies with context, place, and perceptions. Nationalism has been portrayed as a dogma which conceives that the world is


some authors have positioned Brexit as a “war of political ideologies” where new nationalist-populist trends have affected and contextualised it (Buckledee, 2018).

By exploring the political field, our world has been facing two sensitive problems throughout the last decade, such as failure of governance and lack of socio-political responsibility (The Global Risks Report 2019, 2019). While this report outlines that both have drastically risked the bases of democracy and have been related to new political nationalism, O’Toole (2017) states that those current political episodes have caused a new notion of international borders leading to further country divisions. Failure of governance, on the one hand, is illustrated by the incapability to govern a country by causing political instability. According to the report, topics related to migration, management of climate change, and minorities have generated political conflicts by having direct consequences in elections. Lack of socio-political responsibility, on the other hand, is characterised by two specific attributes: lack of democratic identity and polarization in societies. As a result, increasing rates of negligence on political processes and distrust in political institutions have widened the gap between the community and its political leaders (The Global Risks Report 2019, 2019).

Lack of engagement in political affairs and misinforming of democratic rights and responsibilities are some of the characteristics that our society is currently exhibiting, where the use of language has been certainly criticised (Somin, 2014). By supporting this, Duffy (2014) researched how socio-political responsible our society is. Thus, among the most alarming outcomes, he detected that Americans unknow the actual immigrant population in their territory (31% vs real figure 13%). Besides, French think 30% of the residents are Muslims when the real proportion is 8% as well as that only 58% of the population voted in the last presidential election when 80% did. Moreover, Italians believe that roughly 50% of the country is unemployed when the fact is 12%. Finally, he found that the British are mistaken about figures related to the percentage of immigrants, adolescent pregnancy, and public expenditures. Consequently, he has made an apology by quoting in his article:


“political ignorance in Britain is remarkably similar to that in the USA, with voters in both countries making similar errors”.

Some of the results of increased levels of nationalism across the globe including a flourishing trend of national values, intolerance to minorities, patriotist traits as well as increased rates of polarisation have created an “us against them” mentality among voters (The new nationalism, 2016). As a result, individuals are more willing to defend and support all those they consider similar to them and fighting against opposite agendas. Thus, even though social polarisation is a fact, which has brought social instability and political uncertainty, some parts of society have conceived it as a beneficial issue in democracy (The Global Risks Report 2019, 2019). Some examples of contemporary political polarisation, which have been related to the use of language as a mechanism to achieve them, are the decision by the UK to leave the EU (Brexit) in 2016 as well as Donald Trumps’ victory in the 2016 USA presidential election by 306 votes (46.4%) against Hillary Clinton by 232 (48.5%) (Presidential results, 2016). Besides, Colombia’s population rejection of the 2016 Peace Deal by 50.2% (voting against) (Colombia referendum: Voters reject FARC peace deal, 2016) as well as Jair Bolsonaro (right-wing)’s victory in the 2018 Brazilian presidential election by 55.2% against for Fernando Haddad (left-wing) by 44.8% (Jair Bolsonaro: Far-right candidate wins Brazil poll, 2018), and so forth.

Drawing on our research topic, Shipman (2017) divides Brexit into three parts. He characterised the first stage as relating to political discussions suggesting the possibility of leaving the EU. The first voices of Brexit were heard when the UK held its first nationwide referendum in 1975 with the purpose of voting to leave or to stay at the previous European Economic Community (EEC henceforth). After decades of relative political stability, new “lights of Brexit” remerged when the Oxford Campaign for an Independent Britain and the UK Independence Party (UKIP henceforth) were established in 1990 and 1993 respectively (Lynch, Whitaker and Loomes, 2012).


New considerations of Brexit thereby emerged upon the arrival of the XXI Century. Although David Cameron, acting as Prime Minister (PM henceforth), rejected its implementation in 2012 by highlighting the economic and political importance of staying as a member of the EU, three years later and under considerable pressure from diverse political sides, he announced that a referendum would be held by the end of 2017 (Shipman, 2017). Thus, the author has demarcated the referendum itself as the second stage of Brexit.

The third and final stage of the process was coined “transition process” (The transition period, 2020). It was characterised by a particular set of events that complicated the already complex process, including David Cameron’s resignation after the results were delivered, the election of two more PMs, renegotiation attempts within the UK Parliament, its final ratification, and finally, the UK’s departure from EU in January 2020. Under those circumstances, on January 31st, 2020 at 11.00 pm Brexit was officially executed delivering a new stage called the “implementation period”, which ends on December 31st, 2020, after

which the UK will be politically and economically independent from the EU (ibid.).

1.2 The Importance of the Research Topic

Democracy has been the heart of independence, liberty, and human rights. Humanity has been grounded on democratic values and principles since ancient Greece, as well as highly enriched and culturally shaped through specific contemporary episodes, such as fighting against racial discrimination, equal rights between men and women, and LGBT rights, among others. Likewise, democracy takes place when its symbols (the constitution, equality, right to life, and minority rights) empower societies to deliver and trace their destiny independently (Slaughter, 2017).

One of the core principles of democracy is to enable people to make autonomous decisions by providing a timely, efficient, and trustworthy service through several types of socio-democratic means, generally known as ‘citizen participation mechanisms’, such as referendums, plebiscites, social initiatives, and so forth (Slaughter, 2017). The UK, for


instance, held a public vote in June 2016 to decide about its future stay within the EU (Shipman, 2017).

Democracy issues and political milestones have been studied throughout human history and deserve to be an ongoing research focus, especially since it has been multidimensionally affected by technology, media, and new economic tendencies. Similarly, the leadership phenomenon is a broad field which intrinsically involves human relationships, influencing practices, and how language is used to maximise relationships and effectiveness (De Pree, 2004), which in fact, have spread its scope to further spaces of discussion and study as political and integrative leadership. While society is moving at a progressively fast pace through social change, our skills and qualities need to be adapted to new situations accordingly. Therefore, democratic processes and their mechanisms for influencing people are directly connected as a way of leading individuals through an appropriate and reliable decision-making process.

1.3 Problem Discussion

Political and democratic processes can be approached and analysed from different views. One of those, which should be actively considered, is the socio-behavioural perspective that brings numerous considerations to the table. The European Commission has found that a thorough understanding of democracy emerges when society comprehends that political decisions are highly related to individuals’ emotions, values, and identity (Human Rights and Democracy: striving for dignity and equality around the world, 2020). One the other, it has been researched among political leadership theories that a great variety of skills, such as social reconciliation, public communication proficiency, and emotional intelligence are actively used by political leaders to build and maintain a solid relationship with their followers that trigger the accomplishment of tailored outcomes (Hart, 2014).


communicators speak with simplicity and clarity, coherence, accurateness, and stimulate further conversation. Similarly, effective communication entails knowing how to use language to design, shape, and address particular audiences. Following this view, language involves a wide variety of approaches, characteristics, and styles that influence the way individuals think and act where words, images, and gestures have formed its concept (ibid.).

Demarcating the importance of our research focus, language has been positioned as the centre of study by approaching and analysing Brexit through rhetoric. Rhetoric is a technique where written, and spoken forms of language are used to persuade audiences by including any “discourse, art form, performance, cultural object, or event that—by symbolic and/or material means—has the capacity to move someone” (Ott and Dickinson, 2013: pg. 2). As a result, rhetoric fits into the political context by considering multiple analyses.

Persuasive communication can modify how individuals view and conceive their experiences and lives, especially when the communicator’s message aligns with their viewpoint (ibid.). Individuals encounter a lot of experiences that define their reality and modify completely and continuously the way they approach life. From a political perspective, the creation of meaning and use of language are related to construct perspectives about political issues, events, crises, etc. and to understand how reality is told to society and how those messages are linked to its ideologies, respectively (Edelman, 1985). Hence, our research argues that Brexit is a clear example of understanding and pointedly adapting to others’ frames of reference to tailor targeted outcomes.

The connection between Brexit and political leadership is an essential focus for the current research because it left a considerable impression about the way British political leaders could deploy specific tactics, approaches, and strategies, based on the use of language, to inspire more than 17.4 million followers to opt for it (a turnout of 51.9%) (Uberoi, 2016). So, in that spirit, leadership is undoubtedly connected to our research topic related to how language was used as a massive influencing tool.


Additionally, Bell (2014) describes how new political insights have evolved leadership into a field of study by discussing a wide range of political considerations, problematics, and implications in terms of how individuals perceive and appreciate actions and situations and how they measure their possibilities. Further, political leaders must confront the fact that commanding public attention implies the destruction of the opposition and minorities. Similarly, they are requested to have a balanced range of qualities to approach and handle democratic demands in political competitions (ibid.). Consequently, the ability to communicate and deliver an appropriate, timely, and precise message effectively to society has been ranked as one of the essential political skills. Finally, he highlights a current general need to strengthen political leadership through all public institutions and authorities to balance and drive not only democratic processes but execution periods.

Our research on Brexit has revealed that although language plays a remarkable role throughout democratic and political affairs, it has not been profoundly discussed in this specific phenomenon. Firstly, besides the fact that political decisions are directly connected to emotions and feelings, Buckledee (2018) mentions that in a democracy the most vigorous and powerful campaign does not always win because its political leaders underestimate the power of voting. Secondly, even though Edelman (1985) highlights political language as a critical element to connect society to political leaders and how both realities can dynamically converge, Padilla, Hogan, and Kaiser (2007) argue that need for power, a narcissistic personality, and manipulation through language have shaped a figure of “destructive leader”, which is clearly represented in some political characters. Finally, language has been internally pointed by some British leaders as one of the main influencing factors which led Britain to make such a decision. For instance, when the referendum’s figures were published, the Financial Time, one of the most prestigious international newspapers originally from England, quoted Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP, by saying “the EU referendum was a test of leadership and I think Jeremy Corbyn failed it when the Labour voters did not get the message” (Buckledee, 2018: pg. 7).


To conclude, language, which has been permanently researched in many fields of study, has brought several academic and practical considerations to analyse, interpret, and further explore by obtaining a considerable relevance on global current political events.

1.4 Research Purpose and Research Questions

The purpose of this thesis is to explore and examine how language was used to influence the British electorate’s decision-making process in the 2016 Brexit referendum by focusing on rhetorical techniques. It is noteworthy that our study is not focused on judging the correctness of such a choice.

According to the topic’s relevance and having underlined its facts, unique traits, and direct connection to political leadership, the following research question has been formulated:

- “How was language as a core factor of communication used to impact democratic decision-making in Brexit?”

By supporting the socio-behavioural perspective of Brexit, where language played a remarkable role in influencing British public, two sub-questions have also been formulated:

- What rhetorical means were used by pro-Brexit leaders to approach and run their Brexit referendum campaign?

- What rhetorical means were used by the “Remain leaders” to approach and run their Brexit referendum campaign?

Feasibility and appropriateness have been considered to assess our research question and sub-questions (Saunders et al., 2019). While Brexit is a fascinating topic that gathers accessible and timely information due to its worldwide impact and significant effects, it


has a direct link to our field of study, is theoretically affordable, holds a high degree of relevance per se in our current society, and is suitable to become an initial point for further research.

1.5 Research Objective

Research objectives classify the research aim into specific parts or chapters by stating what needs to be developed and how to accomplish expected outcomes in a definite direction (Vaus, 2001). Thus, our research objective is:

- To identify and present what political messages were given to British society and through this, reach a deeper understanding of how language influencing practices were used to impact on democratic decision-making in Brexit.

1.6 Thesis Scope and Delimitations

A great group of journalists, economists, and political experts have started to write, examine, and assess Brexit from several views. According to our research purpose, our journey through Brexit has been framed from its socio-behavioural and political viewpoint. Firstly, Brexit is inherently qualified as a political phenomenon that was rooted among diverse political environments and new nationalist-populist ideologies (Carney, 2019). Norris and Inglehart (2019) argue that an extensive range of related economic and political events, which have mainly taken place in North America and Europe, has produced a new authoritarian regime built upon political and social weaknesses. In line with this assumption, numerous debates in the EU and British Parliament, the use of a socio-political participation mechanism (referendum), and the invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on EU to formally execute it are a few examples of its political bases.


Secondly, Brexit has been illustrated by several socio-humanistic factors where a combination of influencing techniques was used to persuade feelings and emotions, which led to the public arriving at the resultant democratic choice. In other words, could the importance of Brexit be questioned in terms of the success its leaders had in influencing the mass of people when they were able to capture more than 17.4 million individuals’ attention despite leading them to an uncertain future?

Considering our line of research, this thesis has been focused on effective communication as a part of the broad set of influencing strategies. Buckledee (2018) has been one of the authors who has described and studied Brexit from the socio-behavioural perspective by outlining how language, persuasion, and some tailored elements were used for influencing individuals. By saying this, rhetorical means have been outlined through an extensive range of material, such as conferences, speeches, and debates as well as visual designs, slogans, posters, and related campaign material. Besides, the scope of our analysis has been traced between May 2015, the moment when the referendum was introduced to the UK Parliament (Norris and Inglehart, 2019; and European Union referendum Act 2015), and June 2016, when it was officially held (Norris and Inglehart, 2019).

To sum up, our research scope and delimitation are connected to the socio-behavioural angle of Brexit which involves specific considerations regarding how effective communication was displayed as well as to the political perspective by describing its history and facts. Then, rhetoric, as a communication technique, has aimed to assess how language was approached.

1.7 Thesis Outline

Five major chapters are the structural basis of this thesis, excluding the methodology section. Firstly, a thorough understanding of the leadership phenomenon, as a literature review, has been done regarding the political arena. Starting with a description of political leaders and how they manage sensemaking and creation of meaning, we have explored language as an influencing tool where narratives, stories, and rhetoric play a significant role.


Moreover, and once the political leadership foundations had been highlighted, we have been reflecting on the role of society, as followers, and the context of democratic fields.

Secondly, a comprehensive understanding of Brexit as a historical fact. Beginning with its history from 1973, when the UK originally joined EEC, to 2015, when the referendum was officially announced; followed by “the Brexit referendum campaign”, from May 2015 to June 2016. Then, a process called “post-Brexit”, which extends from June 2016 to its official execution in January 2020 (Shipman, 2017; Norris and Inglehart, 2019), including the “transition period” from January 2020 to December 2020 (Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community). It is worth mentioning that the Brexit referendum campaign has been approached by examining three factors: leaders, ideas and arguments, and context.

Thirdly, a thorough analysis of the selected empirical data by presenting an entire description of each piece of material (interactive and visual) based on our analytical framework (see section 3.4.1). Fourthly, based on the empirical data analysis, a set of rhetorical techniques were extracted to develop a complete rhetorical analysis where comparative examples, contrasts, and illustrations were approached to show how each political campaign used those linguistic means to influence British society.

Finally, a conclusion was drawn where we not only answered the research questions but also stated theoretical and practical implications as well as connotations for further research.



Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This chapter of our thesis is dedicated to exploring different ideologies, theories, research, and publications on leadership and language in relation to politics. We chose to concentrate on literature that focused on political leadership due to the nature of our study case (Brexit). To address our research topic, this chapter has been divided into three major sections which strategically connect how Brexit has been studied and understood. Firstly, we conceptualise political leadership by presenting the primary connotations and characteristics of leaders, sensemaking and management of meaning, and language as an influencing tool where narratives, stories, and rhetoric play a remarkable role in building influencing practices. Secondly, we discuss political followership by analysing the general theory as well as characteristics and behaviours of followers. Finally, we analyse the core conducive traits of context as a way to address leadership.

From an academic perspective, the topic of leadership continues to attract scholars from different fields of thought. The majority of the publications and researchers, especially in the XXI Century, agree that leadership involves two main actors, such as a leader and a follower who interact in a partnership by sharing an unequal distribution of influence and status (Alvesson et al., 2017). Moreover, it has been noted that the measure of outstanding leadership can be determined by focusing on the outcomes of the followers (De Pree, 2004). This further highlights the vital role that followers play in the leadership equation. An additional aspect, which also impacts on leadership expected outcomes, is the existing environment or context where leadership is practised (Weick, 1995; Gardner and Laskin, 2011; Rhodes and ’t Hart, 2014).

Leaders employ a variety of techniques to enable them to communicate, engage with, and influence their followers. These practices are dynamically used to approach, shape, and develop shared meaning, upon which the leader can foster his objectives (Charteris-Black, 2005). In line with this, language has been chosen to explore the theoretical framework and


analyse the impact, as an influencing tool, on those three mentioned components (leaders, followers, and context).

2.2 Political Leadership

The origins of political leadership can primarily be traced back to the VI Century era of Plato and Aristotle when without stating that name, they attempted to frame a concept based on ancient Greek democracy and city-states. However, more recent analysis has stated that its contemporary foundations commenced in 1940 when multiple authors explored political connotations and spaces as representations of leadership. Throughout this period, numerous definitions were put forward to express a reasonable understanding of political leadership actively; nevertheless, a standard explanation is yet to be determined (Elgie, 2015).

Throughout those attempts to approach political leadership, it has been described as “the power exercised by one or a few individuals to direct members of the nation towards action” (Blondel, 1987: pg. 3). Another definition of political leadership is:

“A unique set of power relations and influences that is exercised over a broad range of nationally and globally salient issue areas and from a position of authoritative preponderance involving ideologies and ethics” (Masciulli, et al., 2009: pg. 6).

Political leadership exists within the confines of democracy where political leaders hold the responsibility to exercise it and citizens to experience it diversely. According to Gaffney (1991), democracy and democratic processes are evidenced by party governance and different parties having the right to organise, publicise, and compete for power. Similarly, the former is civically exercised through several means, including the right of the public to vote and participate in elections, freedom of speech and the press, the impartial judicial system, and accountability from law enforcement agencies (the police). The author, however, indicates that sometimes the reality in society is different from the perception or expectation. Freedom of the press is an example.


2.2.1 Description of Political Leaders

Political leaders, sometimes referred to as politicians, are the leading figures of democracy as well as the individuals responsible for representing the society in public matters. They have been defined as: “democratically elected representatives who are vulnerable to deselection and operate within, as well as influence a constitutional and legal framework” (Morrell and Hartley, 2006: pg. 484).

Rhodes and ’t Hart (2014) expand this definition by describing political leaders as individuals who assert influence over the public through democratic, civic, or social (non-governmental) processes. It is relevant to outline that Brexit involved many types of political leaders with varying roles, positions, and influencing abilities, such as Members of UK Parliament, political strategists, executives, and heads of political parties.

Drawing on specific features of leadership, Elgie (2015) highlights that there is a significant difference between exercising leadership (behavioural leadership) and holding office (positional leadership). He argues that leaders are perceived to be individuals engaged in specific behaviour, with a given group of followers, who operate within a common context. Consequently, the level of authority, title, or role is not essential for exercising political leadership. Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa are some examples of individuals who practised behavioural leadership and were, therefore, considered as leaders even though they did not hold any formal office or political position.

Types of Political Leaders

By adopting Burns (1978, 2003)’s categorisation of political leaders, Rhodes and ’t Hart (2014) cluster political leaders into two groups: interactive leaders and power-wielders. The former is considered to act within and comply with the limitations of democracy and the rule of law by using bargaining, persuasion, and genuine engagement to influence their followers. The latter, conversely, bases their authority on force and manipulation and are thus considered to be “ruthless, Machiavellians, and cold-hearted narcissists”.


Laker (2020) provides five categories of political leaders. The first type is surgeon leaders, who are focused on short-term deliverables by considering and assessing them to be the most pressing or ‘mission-critical’ problems and allocating resources to tackle them. Besides, this type of political leader expects complete obedience to their instructions and authority, even when they do not follow them. These leaders are usually ‘incredibly decisive and incisive’, and they often move on from projects without witnessing the negative impact of their actions and decisions in the long term, with which either the leaders who succeed them or their followers usually have to contend. An example of this type of leader is incumbent President of the USA Donald Trump, elected in 2016 (ibid.).

Secondly, soldier leaders, who focus their efforts, particularly on the financial aspect of political operations, thus leaving out some other relevant activities. Their focus is to make operations leaner, more automated, and more efficient; to improve financial performance during their tenure. Subsequently, their policies are usually considered unsustainable in the long run, and they create anxiety and fear among followers. An example of this type of leader is Dick Cheney, the 46th Vice President of the USA, who served from 2001 to 2009 (Laker, 2020).

Thirdly, accountant leaders, who are deemed to be less strict, better liked, and more positively remembered. As the name suggests, these leaders are usually financially skilled and trained. Similarly, following the principle that organisations crumble by being ‘small and weak’, accountant leaders focus their energy on economic growth, revenues, and sales. They, therefore, operate systematically and are more inclined towards expansion and investment. These leaders are resourceful and usually against political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both (austerity politics). Their tenures are associated with an improvement in economic performance which usually continues even after they leave the office. An example of this type of leader is Gordon Brown, former British PM and leader of the Labour Party between 2007 and 2010 (Laker, 2020).


Fourthly, philosopher leaders, who have developed broader communication skills and are considered inspirational to those who ascribe to their school of thought and principles, manage to inspire and motivate their supporters by causing a sense of transformation. Despite making big promises, these leaders usually fail in terms of implementation as well as blame others for their failures and are reluctant to accept fault. Those who do not agree with the ideologies of the philosopher leaders, find them irritating and obstinate, which makes them often ostracised by the leaders on account of their lack of support. These leaders, who are enthusiastic debaters, spend a considerable amount of time discussing and deliberating on issues with their followers which causes delays in decision-making processes. An example of this type of leader is British Member of UK Parliament Jeremy Corbyn, who led the Labour Party and served as Leader of Opposition (Laker, 2020).

Finally, architect leaders, who are most akin to interactive leaders, embody servant leadership by having an outstanding combination of characteristics taken from the previously discussed types of leaders. Focused more on the long-term results, they concentrate on revamping and altering things and systems to create a long-term sustainable impact. Moreover, operating on the premise that individuals fail because they do not satisfactorily serve their followers, these leaders are frequently insightful and visionary by being focused on the long-term as well as refusing to settle for immediate results and benefits. In comparison to soldier and surgeon leaders, this type continues to perform more steadily and with longer-lasting results. As such, their efforts might not be appreciated in the short-term. However, architect leaders are remembered long after they have left office, sometimes even long after death. An example of this category is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the USA, who served as from 1861 to 1865 (Laker, 2020).

We believe that the above categorisation of leaders as proposed by the respective authors will be useful to our analysis of the behaviour of the different leaders throughout the Brexit referendum campaign. On the one hand, although Brexit was a democratic process that called for interactive leaders, it is possible to observe that some of them used manipulation and fear to influence the public. On the other, the Brexit referendum campaign attracted a


variety of leaders who fell into one or some of the categories proposed by Laker (2020), and it will be interesting to see how they collaborated during the Brexit process. Our analysis, however, is focused on the various leaders’ rhetoric abilities and communication skills.

Determinants of Successful Leadership

Rhodes and ’t Hart (2014) propose three criteria for assessing the impact and performance of a political leader using the model created by Hart (2014). Firstly, the leader’s ability to provide effective policies that solve society’s problems called smart leadership. Secondly, the leader’s ability to garner support from the electorates and numerous influential members in governance called accepted leadership. Finally, the leader’s response to the various coinciding responsibilities of the role, which is considered trustworthiness or accountable leadership.

Rhodes and ’t Hart (2014), referred to Greenstein (2000), propose six additional criteria. Firstly, public communication proficiency, which considers the leader’s ability to deliver a message to audiences with which they cannot interact on a one-to-one basis. Secondly, organisational capability, which is determined by how well a leader utilises the different intricate forms of government to achieve their objectives. Thirdly, political ability, which entails the leader’s ability to enhance their influence and achieve their targets amidst the autonomy and divisions in the government. Fourthly, policy vision, which relates to the leader’s capacity to convey their principles and ideals in a coherent and comprehensive plan to be undertaken during their tenure in office. Fifthly, cognitive style, which connects the way leaders shape their beliefs and analyse information and guidance. Finally, emotional intelligence, which focuses on the nature and extent of the leader’s engagement with others in terms of their desires, motivations, and temperaments.

According to the last criteria, there are several essential qualities associated with successful political leadership. Rhodes and ’t Hart (2014) indicate that a successful leader should have


subsequent influence and the latter derives from the leader’s personality and ability to make strategic decisions that affect essential issues in society. Furthermore, Hart (2014) argued that successful leaders are those who leverage their political competence through their reputation, emotional intelligence, interpersonal relations and influence, and apparent authenticity.

For our research study, we find each of the mentioned criteria and subsequent qualities could be essential in our understanding of the different leaders of the leave and remain campaigns of the Brexit process and analysis of their use of language as an influencing tool to achieve their respective objectives in relation to the eventual outcome.

2.2.2 Sensemaking and Management of Meaning

Sensemaking and management of meaning are crucial elements not only as a general leadership phenomenon but throughout political leadership. The sensemaking process entails restructuring society’s beliefs regarding the importance of events, difficulties, and policy adjustments as well as their perception of political leaders. The fundamental aim is to garner more support for the leader while undermining the opposition (Edelman, 1985). Moreover, Smircich and Morgan (1982) define sensemaking as the process by which a person attempts to influence the environment in which others make sense of their reality in given circumstances. Thus, leaders are only successful if they manage to persuade and shape the followers’ reality.

Additionally, management of meaning can be referred to as the capacity to convince others to do and enjoy doing something that they otherwise would not have done (Gardner and Laskin, 2011). This involves changing the way people think and consider reality and encouraging them to be positioned onto the leader’s dashboard. Leaders can achieve this by creating a central point (frame) of reference and inspiring interaction between themselves and their followers. Consequently, creating a frame of reference provides followers with a


direction, a sense of order, and organisation while it enables the leader to explain their vision, existing alternatives, and obtain the followers’ acceptance (Weick, 1995).

The creation of meaning and reality is not always an isolated activity for the individual, but rather meaning arises from the individual’s interaction with others. As a result, it has been argued that it is a socially constructed and structured process (Edelman, 1985). Management of meaning can also be influenced by other external sources to which an individual might be exposed, such as media. By examining the context in Brexit, Khabaz (2018) noted that media, including several newspapers, played a significant role in creating frames of reference for the British public during the Brexit referendum campaign, which could have contributed to the outcome of the referendum. Statistics suggested that multiple newspapers’ coverage during the Brexit referendum campaign was prejudiced towards the Leave campaign. Thus, the author concluded that: “Newspapers might not be able to tell people what to think, but they can affect what they think about”. (Khabaz, 2018: pg. 2).

Culture also plays a significant role in the way in which people perceive and experience leadership. Indeed, political leaders employ different techniques in their attempt to restructure or improve the prevailing national and political culture to suit their objectives (Masciulli et al., 2009). Likewise, Gardner and Laskin (2011) further expound on this, arguing that successful leaders are those who anticipate and meet the requirements and expectations of their followers by articulating their message persuasively and precisely to defeat other arguments and beliefs.

Besides, leadership is a social process dominated by collective practices, rules, traditions, and customs (Rhodes and ’t Hart, 2014). Leaders are consequently required to synchronously appeal to the public’s minds, sentiments, and beliefs. As such, some of the practices associated with progressively developing multiple influencing techniques employed by leaders require a thorough understanding and management of language, culture, paradigms, and stories and narratives, among others (Gardner and Laskin, 2011).


Examining the concept of sensemaking and management of meaning, it is relevant to highlight it as an essential device with which to analyse the use of language as an influencing tool. This concept enables us to identify and understand how the leaders of both Brexit referendum campaigns (Remain and Leave) were able to structure their messages strategically to win the public’s vote.

2.2.3 Language as an Influencing Tool

Language has received many definitions and approaches in diverse areas of study. Throughout leadership research, language has been framed to identify opportunities and challenges in a particular context and to maximise its benefits by diversely describing it (Conger, 1991). From a political perspective, language can be used to communicate formal and informal data in terms of political instructions, laws, and policies; however, it is limited in its ability to describe reality due to inherent subjectivity (Edelman, 1985). Indeed, the author argues that language is the centre of an individual’s experiences and social world; as such, its delivery is restricted by the speaker’s perspective.

The powerful role of language in leadership is a complex area of analysis. Gardner and Laskin (2011) provided insights into language by finding that influential leaders are those who can persuade their followers by using words, signs, and their characters to embody their stories and messages. Additionally, Ali et al. (2017) highlight the critical role played by political leaders in influencing followers’ culture by using a variety of persuasion tools (including language) to create unity, collaboration, and coordination.

Concerning democratic processes, language is consistently the avenue through which leaders validate their leadership. As Charteris-Black (2005) notes, leaders’ linguistic performance is one of the primary means through which they gather support from their followers. Consequently, leaders employ several tools, such as language, stories, myths, drama, and a wide variety of symbols through which they strategically gain their followers’ attention and arouse emotions as a way of connecting and building a relationship, where the


context also plays a substantial role. By doing so, leaders obtain control over the situation and, subsequently, influence followers.

Additionally, Corlett (2013) contributes academically to research on the subject of the importance of language in political leadership by highlighting the relevance of communication and its impact on politicians’ careers. Moreover, he argued that clarity is essential to achieve successful and effective communication. As a result, he advised leaders to focus on simplicity and clarity in their messages by using a straightforward choice of words and rhetoric. With this approach in mind, communication in politics can be delivered either formally through official speeches, manifestos, press releases, public statements, and such related or informally through social media and blogs (ibid).

In contrast, political leaders have been noted to regularly play with the audience’s perceptions and deploy appropriate intellectual schemes by utilising or avoiding etymological or rhetorical approaches to intensify the integrity of their communication (David, 2014). Thus, adroit and highly skilled leaders and speakers have managed to entice their followers to support causes which they would not normally agree to or accept false statements and information as truth by manipulating language to change the public’s presumptions, opinions, motivations, and uncertainties.

Concordant with this, Corlett (2013) observed that leaders need to use positive language in political communication. The author highlights that the public looks favourably upon leaders who offer hope and promise a brighter future in their messages. That is, followers, appear to be more drawn to those leaders who have inspiring and uplifting messages rather than those who preach doom and damnation. Martin Luther King with his ‘I have a dream’ speech, Barack Obama through his slogan ‘Yes we can’, and UK PM Boris Johnson with his catchphrase ‘Together we can get Brexit done’ are some illustrations.


diverse use of language and linguistic strategies impact democratic processes and elections (Edelman, 1985). Additionally, variations in language, word choice, and rhetoric style should be carefully considered by leaders in terms of ‘slang’ or informal connotations, formal language structures, and regionalist associations, among others, when a specific context and group of followers are being approached (Ricks, 2018).

Furthermore, political leaders have been noted to use inclusive and exclusive language to indicate or demarcate coalitions and persuade followers. The type of language used can indicate who to support and can limit their followers’ mindset. To achieve this aim, leaders include words such as ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ (inclusive), or terms such as ‘they’, ‘them’, ‘their’ (exclusive) to express political insights. Related research indicates: “…successful election candidates are more likely to use language that is rooted in the collective ‘we’ and ‘us’ than those who are unsuccessful…” (Steffens and Haslam, 2013: pg. 4).

Leaders also use both abstract and concrete language, depending on the intention of their message. Using the Demarcating Linguistic Intergroup Bias (LIB) model by Anne Maass (1999), as a point of reference, Ng and Deng (2017) argue that leaders use abstract language to characterise ‘positive in-group and negative out-group’ behaviours and concrete language to illustrate ‘negative in-group and positive out-group’ behaviours. Consequently, this use of language creates not only subjective support for those belonging to the ‘in-group’ category over those considered to be in the ‘out-group’ one but also an increase in stereotyping and bias (ibid.).

Additionally, leaders tend to avoid responsibility or commitment to promises by using ambiguous words (Ng and Deng, 2017). Specifically, promises made by leaders during election campaigns are usually vague because they want to avoid being held accountable. The language used by leaders is, therefore, aimed more towards endearing themselves to the public than concentrating the public’s attention on the leader’s manifesto in detail (Corlett, 2013). Finally, leaders use technical and specialised language to distract society from certain discussions and decisions; for instance, about wars, resource allocation, and


accountability, drafting of controversial policies, or other changes that they might not want to draw public attention to (Edelman, 1985).

2.2.4 Narratives and Stories

Storytelling is one of the methods with which leaders influence their followers. Stories have been used since time immemorial to spread messages and communication between people, cultures, and organisations. Because of the timeless appeal of stories, a leader, who can embody messages in this format, is often regarded by followers as authentic and more relatable (Ng and Deng, 2017). Stories and narratives are relatively similar and occasionally used interchangeably. In an attempt to differentiate stories from narratives and other related terms as ‘discourse and frames’, Ng and Deng (2017) argue that stories are the process of recounting past events for etymological or conceptual purposes while narratives occur when fresh and previously existing interconnected stories are merged and delivered in chronological order that enables the audience to understand events and justify shared actions.

According to Gardner and Laskin (2011), political leaders employ the use of stories and narratives in a formal and non-formal context. When used formally, stories are incorporated into speeches, conferences, public addresses, and meetings, among others. When used informally, stories interact differently to create an intimate connection between leaders and followers. Due to their success, current political leaders mostly use stories to suggest a friendly relationship with their desired audience through casual conversations, town hall meetings, and one-on-one interviews. These interactions are designed to appear impulsive and unrehearsed (ibid.).

Diverse types of leaders use storytelling to influence their audience and to attain efficacy. While ordinary leaders recount their group’s traditional stories as efficiently as possible, innovative leaders rejuvenate a previously dormant story in society, giving it a renewed


previously unknown to the people and is successful by effectively conveying the new story to others (Gardner and Laskin, 2011). Among political leadership, the third category is predominant.

Given that political sentiment, meanings, and practices have evolved throughout history, the narrative in politics is subsequently affected. Existing narratives and practices can be altered, reinterpreted, and modified, but to do so, requires that the previous narrative be reignited in individuals’ minds. This is neither a simple nor an immediate process, and the old practices and narratives are considered to have been replaced once the new narrative overrides them and becomes prominent in their place (Miller, 2012).

Leaders use narratives to form, nurture, and safeguard their reputations with their followers. These narratives are not always necessarily based on facts but symbols and myths. The leaders’ narratives compete with those of their opponents; therefore, leaders are continually working to highlight their version. Successful leaders are skilled storytellers who utilise culture and traditions to shape and tell stories to society to influence it by creating shared meaning (Rhodes and ’t Hart, 2014).

Additionally, Choy (2018) emphasises that rather than repeating their achievements to their followers and wasting valuable time in the process, successful leaders should tell stories where they express their personality and remind followers of their vision. As a result, the stories told are meticulously and deliberately collected and used. Moreover, leaders’ stories are often based on their life experiences; as such, it is often argued that the story should be personified through the leader’s presentation and lifestyle. Any disconnection between leaders’ behaviour and their message is often frowned upon and can elicit a negative response from the audience. Thus, Gardner and Laskin (2011) suggest some terms describing this type of leader, such as ‘hypocrite’, ‘untrustworthy’, ‘fake’, or ‘disingenuous’.


In light of the above, political leaders can be regarded as performers portraying a part that they think the audience needs or wants to see. The success of the performance is directly dependent on who evaluates it (followers) and the prevailing situation (context). A successful or productive performance entails an active utilisation of time, space, stage, performer’s body language, words, and interaction with the audience. It should be seen as thought-provoking and prompt the audience to act in the desired way (Gardner and Laskin, 2011). Subsequently, the way a political leader acts while addressing the public may vary according to the situation and audience. Knowing and understanding the specific characteristics of followers and the environment allows the political leader to shape and effectively drive diverse affairs. For a leader’s story to be effective enough, it “needs to make sense to audience members at this particular historical moment in terms of where they have been and where they would like to go” (Gardner and Laskin, 2011: pg. 14).

According to Gardner and Laskin (2011), narratives enable people to reflect upon their individuality (who they are), origin (where they come from), and future (where they are headed). Although there is an established set of competing narratives and ideologies from opposing political groups in social consciousness, individuals are continually re-defining and constructing themselves based on new stories, which are then also included in mutual political understanding. Besides, narratives in society contribute to communal harmony, and they come to anticipate and appreciate certain actions and common behaviours (Miller, 2012).

It is noteworthy that although Gardner and Laskin (2011) argue that stories, including myths, narratives, and fables, are a vital component of relationships between human beings, Miller (2012) asserts that when a given narrative is successful within the community, the competing narratives are not entirely displaced and forgotten but remain present in the background both within the minds of the individuals and the culture. Additionally, Miller (2012) further contends that sometimes competing narratives can develop during the process of instilling the newly accepted narrative into practice. When leaders use a steady


and established strategy, they can make the process of followers receiving their message more natural to achieve.

Building on the concept of ‘the unschooled mind’, Gardner and Laskin (2011) describe the importance of using stories, which are simple and easily understood by the different people that comprise the audience. Indeed, they drew attention to the fact that the leaders who choose the more sophisticated stories and means of portraying their messages are frequently defeated by those who opt for simpler ones. Likewise, followers, especially in the political context, are drawn to those with whom they feel a connection, and, therefore, the more straightforward and relatable the leader’s story, the easier it is to receive support from the followers. Consequently, a successful story is one that affords a satisfactory and apt sense of individuality and inclusion for members of the public (Gardner and Laskin, 2011). Finally, the authors quoted:

“Even the most eloquent story is stillborn in the absence of an audience ready to hear it; even mediocre stories unimpressively related will achieve some effectiveness for an audience that is poised to respond” (Gardner and Laskin, 2011: pg. 275).

To conclude, we have highlighted that the interaction between political leaders and their followers, which is established by building a relationship, is a complicated and collaborative process. It is comprised of the interplay between the former’s story and the desires and needs of the latter. Ultimately, it is essential to mention that it is not relevant how good or eloquent the leader’s story is if the audience is unreceptive to it.

2.2.5 Rhetoric

Several authors have defined rhetoric as the art of using language effectively. Bentley and Voges (2018) observed that one of the first authors who attempted to define it was Aristotle, who analysed rhetoric as a set of persuasion skills in every field. Thus, throughout history, the concept, characteristics, and scope of rhetoric have been widened by spreading its connotations to every way of communicating and field of study. Kennedy (2007), for


instance, defined rhetoric as “the energy inherent in communication and thought, transmitted through a system of signs, including language, to others, to influence their decisions or actions” (Kennedy, 2007: pg. 7).

Rhetoric is further described as the ability to identify and utilise the existing methods of persuasion that support communication in every field of study (Kennedy, 2007). Politically speaking, for instance, rhetoric has been considered a fundamental axis where the whole set of public policies, political strategies, and democratic processes converge to be transmitted to society. According to Thompson (2011), throughout history, political communication (rhetoric) has drastically and dynamically evolved and adapted to changes in media, technology developments, and broader access to digital services.

Some authors, as Bentley and Voges (2018), have analysed how politicians, such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Boris Johnson, and Donald Trump, among others have repeatedly changed their positions during their political careers. Hence, personality, emotions, and perspectives not only of political, economic, and social affairs but of their political opponents are susceptible to be modified depending on how, where, and what politicians are pursuing.

There are three categories of rhetoric addressed by Kennedy (2007). Firstly, deliberative rhetoric is used to either inspire or discourage an audience from taking a particular action due to occur in the future. This is done either by highlighting the benefits of the desired action or the dangers of an unwanted one. Secondly, judicial rhetoric contains either accusatory or defensive language, and it is used to justify a certain action or decision or simply highlight the error or unfairness of an action. Finally, epideictic rhetoric is used in reference to both past and future events or actions to underline the brilliance of a person or thing. In this example, the speaker uses words associated with honour, virtue, courage, and justice, among others in reference to that person or thing.


Kennedy (2007) further indicates that leaders appeal to their followers using rhetoric by employing three possible artistic means. Ethos (character) of the speaker (leader) where the rhetoric is used to depict himself as ‘fair-minded and trustworthy’; Pathos (emotions) where it is used to appeal to the audience’s feelings (heart); and finally Logos (logic) where it is addressed to appeal to the audience’s thoughts and perceptions (brain).

A politician’s ability to express their ideas, thoughts, and proposals is vital to building identity and success in society. This aim is achieved through various means, such as dialogues, debates, manifestos, public statements, speeches, etc. (Corlett, 2013). Indeed, politicians are expected to be outstanding orators, which leads to all of the above processes being utilised in political campaigns.

Further, political leaders actively seek to create meaning among the diverse types of potential followers by using rhetoric to influence and win them over to their side (Steffens and Haslam, 2013). Moreover, researchers have revealed what methods and strategies leaders use in their speeches to foster and share a feeling of oneness with their prospective and existing followers. For instance, David (2014) indicates allusion, rhetoric questions, lists of threes, metaphors, use of specific pronouns, use of exclusive or inclusive words, anaphora, and repetition as some of the most relevant techniques.

The way leaders utilise these rhetorical practices is directly related to their personal character, behaviours, and styles. To persuade audiences, leaders should be able to establish a bond with them by using phrases and associations with which they are familiar. That is, speakers tailoring their vocabulary to their audience can create an environment of unity. Moreover, repetition makes it easier for followers to remember the leader’s message since the words appear more familiar (David, 2014).

Leaders, especially in the political field, use pronouns in different ways to achieve different objectives. Pronouns can be used for clarity or concealment. For example, the use of the singular pronoun ‘I’ to indicate responsibility or the plural pronoun ‘we’ to avoid personal


responsibility and accountability since it is unclear who exactly holds accountable in this case (ibid.). Additionally, pronouns can be used to create unity or social identity with the audience; for example, the use of ‘we’ or ‘us’ (Steffens and Haslam, 2013). Scholars indicate that ‘we’ can be used in an inclusive or exclusive context (David, 2014; Bueno, 2017; Buckledee, 2018). ‘We’, therefore, is considered to be inclusive when the audience or group of people are included in the message being delivered; in contrast, it is framed as exclusive when the audience is not included in the message scope (David, 2014). For instance, ‘we’ used inclusively is “your objectives are similar to ours so we can reach an acceptable agreement”. However, ‘we’ used exclusively is “you go your way, and we’ll go ours” (Buckledee, 2018: pg. 46).

Drawing on other types of rhetorical techniques, metaphors and similes are used for comparison purposes. While metaphors are used to refer to a subject by comparing it to another unrelated item or subject that it would in the normal context not be compared with, similes are used to compare subjects and objects that are directly related. Here the comparison is made using the phrases ‘like’, and ‘as’ (David, 2014). Bueno (2017), who refers to Mio (1997), indicates that metaphors, as rhetoric means in politics, have three purposes. Firstly, metaphors are used to make political issues and messages simple and more comprehensible for the audience. Secondly, they can resonate with fundamental representative perceptions and beliefs of the audience by relating the speaker’s message to widely accepted opinions. Finally, metaphors can be used to appeal to the logic and emotions of the public. In this way, the speaker persuades the audience by using metaphors to link the logical and emotive components.

Allusion, in contrast, is used by making “an indirect or casual reference to a historical or literary figure, event, or object” (David, 2014: pg. 166). By using allusion, the speaker links their message to phrases, quotes, or objects that the audience is already familiar with (Bueno, 2017). Bueno (2017), however, mentions that the audience should be aware of the context to avoid feeling lost. An example of allusion in politics is evidenced through one of





Relaterade ämnen :