On membership categorization: 'Us', 'them' and 'doing violence' in political discourse

Ivan Leudar, Victoria Marsland, Jiří Nekvapil

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article concerns the attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001. We use Membership Categorization Analysis to establish how the key figures involved in the conflict represented these events and the participants in them. We analyse public addresses made soon after the attacks by the US President George W. Bush, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda. Each speaker distinguished 'us' from 'them' and formulated this distinction so as to justify past violent actions and to prepare grounds for future ones. Bush and Blair both distinguished 'us' from 'them' in social, political and moral terms, whereas bin Laden did so in religious terms. The categorizations were not done in isolation from each other, but were instead networked. We discuss the relation between membership categorizations, presentations of happenings and violent actions, prior and subsequent and we extend our concept of a 'dialogical network'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)243-266
    Number of pages23
    JournalDiscourse and Society
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


    • Dialogical networks
    • Membership categorization analysis
    • Violence


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