Critical discourse analysis of Donald Trump's speeches

Client: Political organization

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is one of the most difficult, but at the same time the most interesting methods of studying media texts and open sources. Its implementation requires the specialized skills of a critical sociologist and/or sociolinguist, which MCG analysts possess. So we were asked for help using this method to analyse Donald Trump's speeches.

The client was interested in the immigrant discourse that the former president used during his tenure and in his two election campaigns.

The purpose of the research was to determine the key tools and strategies of articulation (that is, consistent mention) of the issue of immigration to the USA, which were used by Trump the candidate and Trump the president. Thematic speeches for different periods and from different social contexts were selected for analysis: 2016, 2019 and 2022.

The CDA scheme was the author's, built on a combination of Norman Fairclaw and Ruth Wodak's methods. It included:

  • Group nominations, that is, special names for different social groups.
  • Discursive antagonisms, i.e. lines of opposition of different social groups.
  • A metaphor related to the problem of immigration.
  • Arguments that were used to reinforce the discourse created by D. Trump.

Together, this amounted to a detailed description of the discursive strategies used by the Trump team to impose on voters their vision of the problem of immigration to the United States and, accordingly, how to solve it. This allows the customer, on the one hand, to better understand the mechanisms of building the current agenda in the US in its "dismembered" form, and on the other hand, thanks to a deep and critical analysis of Trump's rhetoric, to "build a defense" against the manipulation of public consciousness, deconstruct propaganda and get out from the spiral of silence.