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School of Business | Department of Communication | Finnish Business Communication | 2013
Thesis number: 13145
The WTO and ambiguous language of development. A rhetorical analysis of the development discourse of the World Trade Organization.
Author: Kangas, Laura
Title: The WTO and ambiguous language of development. A rhetorical analysis of the development discourse of the World Trade Organization.
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: Finnish Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; talouselämä; economic life; WTO; WTO; retoriikka; rhetorics; kehitys; development; kansainvälinen; international; kansainvälinen kauppa; international trade; diskurssianalyysi; discourse analysis
Pages: 86
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Key terms: WTO; WTO; international trade; kansainvälinen kauppa; discourse analysis; diskurssianalyysi; rhetorics; retoriikka; development; kehitys

The WTO and ambiguous language of development. A rhetorical analysis of the development discourse of the World Trade Organization

Objective of the study This study analyses the development discourse of the WTO by examining the texts of ministerial statements made during the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference. The objective is to discover both how and through what kinds of rhetorical means is development linguistically constructed in WTO's development discourse. The focus lies on three distinctive aspects of the development discourse: on the concept of development, on the relationship between trade and development, and on the roles and power positions of developed and developing countries in tackling development.

Methodology and the Theoretical Framework Epistemologically, the vantage point of this study is post-structuralism and critical discourse analysis, which bring emphasis into the subjectivity of all interpretations and truth claims and draw focus on how knowledge is produced in discursive structures and signifying practices. Rhetorical analysis, particularly the theories of Chaïm Perelman and Kenneth Burke, are applied as an interpretive framework for the empirical analysis. Thus, the rhetorical means constructing the development discourse are examined; notably, the argumentation techniques, premises of the argumentation, rhetoric process of identification and symbolism. Whereas rhetorical analysis examines the linguistic construction of the discourse, the content of the development discourse is analysed by drawing from a theoretical framework constructed from diverse conceptualizations of development according to different paradigms of development studies.

Findings and Conclusions Development as a concept is abstract or focused on the economic, human or structural approach. Development is deemed to be a value judgement that can be a mutual goal only when left undefined. The economic aspect is predominant and the additional references stem from the grand narratives representing a very traditional approach to development. The adherence to neoliberal ideology is the most common premise of the argumentation supplemented by appeals to emotions and sense of moral. The relationship between trade and development is understood in three ways: trade is either beneficial, potentially beneficial or detrimental for development. The benefits of free trade are presented as a belief, a fact or a possibility, but the arguments are not justified. The minority discourse emphasizes disadvantages of free trade and the arguments are supported by presenting causal ties or examples. Colourful and symbolic language is used representing resistance to the assumingly prevailing discourse. Development is seen to concern both developed and developing countries, but additionally, the role of developed countries as enablers of development is emphasized. Also direct accusations are made about the conscious actions of developed countries hindering development. Particularly the traditional view of development and the prevalence of neoliberalism as premise for the argumenatation are interesting findings in comparison to the multifaceted approach of more recent development studies and development co-operation. The abstract nature of development can be seen as problematic for the delivery of measurable results in development.
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