Factive vs. Ideological Knowledge in Political Discourse

Author: Thouraya

Keywords: factive vs. ideological knowledge, mental models, Van Dijk’s cognitive approach, Idealized Cognitive Models, political discourse

DOI: 10.5539/ijel.v9n1p36

Since political discourse portrays politicians’ knowledge state and their ideological assumptions, a critical analysis of Clinton’s speeches may unveil her perceptual and conceptual worlds. More specifically, CDA may uncover Clinton’s mental representations about the Tunisian Revolution and the US attitude towards such an important political event in North Africa and the Middle East. Studying factive presupposition and epistemic modality seems to be an effective pragmatic tool to reveal what is presented as factual or ideological knowledge in political discourse. The research instrument used to sort out the frequency distribution of lexical features, mainly factive and emotive verbs, factive noun phrases, mental state verbs and epistemic modal adjectives and adverbs, is the latest version of “AntConc” software. To uncover the epistemic state of Hillary Clinton, van Dijk’s (1995a) approach is implemented to analyze her speeches between January 2011 and December 2012. At the discourse level, research findings reveal that factive presupposition unveils the speaker’s strong personal commitment to the truth value of her propositions. At the cognitive level, results show that the speaker’s personal and social ideologies and knowledge are demystified by the cognitive mechanisms that govern discourse production and understanding via Idealized Cognitive Models (ICMs), cognitive frames and mental models. This study bridges the gap caused by the lack of research on factive vs. ideological knowledge in political discourse from a socio-cognitive perspective.